Following confirmation last week that the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. is being treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas, the American Nurses Association and the Emergency Nurses Association issued separate statements regarding the preparedness of nurses for such events and the importance of inter-professional collaboration in treating patients and halting the spread of the disease.
In a statement released by the ANA, Pam Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, ANA president, said since the outbreak in West Africa, the association has been encouraging its members to review infectious disease guidelines and checklists to ensure that they understand the disease, how it is transmitted and what precautions are necessary to protect the public and healthcare providers.
The Dallas Ebola case underscores the importance that healthcare providers have appropriate knowledge, education and personal protective equipment to effectively provide care to patients, she said. ANA also underscores the need to practice meticulous infection control at all times.
Cipriano also stressed the importance of teamwork and collaboration among nurses, physicians and other healthcare providers in treating patients with Ebola and stopping the spread of the disease. Additionally, when an error or omission occurs while treating a patient, it is time for the entire healthcare team to review its processes and checklists in order to learn from emerging situations, improve the flow of information and continuously improve practices that result in improved safety for everyone involved, Cipriano said. In any emergency or infectious disease outbreak, healthcare teams must be constantly vigilant and seek out the latest information and evidence-based practices to respond to the evolving situation. ANA supports the healthcare team at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital caring for the Ebola patient, and hopes for his full recovery as the staff works to ensure he receives the best possible treatment, under the most safe and secure circumstances.
The ENA, in a news release, stressed how infection control policies and procedures are used daily in emergency care settings and how safely caring for infectious disease patients is required of emergency nurses. While Ebola is new to the U.S., and there is heightened public awareness surrounding the disease, properly caring for patients with infectious diseases is not new to ENA members who are specially trained to spot diseases and safely care for patients, the public and themselves, ENA President Deena Brecher, MSN, RN, APN, ACNS-BC, CEN, CPEN, said in the release. It is standard practice for emergency nurses to take correct history at triage, participate in collaborative dialogue across the healthcare team and control the spread of infectious diseases in a timely manner.
The release also stated that hospitals across the U.S. are prepared for patients exposed to Ebola arriving for medical care.