The Texas nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for a patient with the disease and the healthcare facility where she worked should not be blamed for improperly following guidelines to contain the virus, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a press conference Monday.
Frieden clarified remarks he made the day before when he spoke of a breach in protocol that allowed the nurse to become infected while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Duncan, who had contracted Ebola in Liberia and developed symptoms in the U.S., died from the disease Oct. 8 after days of being treated in an isolated unit at the hospital.
Some interpreted (my earlier remarks) as finding fault with the hospital or the healthcare worker, Frieden said. Im sorry if that was the impression given. That was certainly not my intention. People on the front lines are really protecting all of us. The enemy here is a virus, Ebola.
Frieden said the infection of the nurse showed the need for increased vigilance and attention in identifying, isolating and caring for people with Ebola, as well as the importance of healthcare workers having sufficient training and protection. Patients with Ebola can be cared for safely, but any small slip in attention to infection control protocols can result in contamination, he said. Frieden also said it is possible others who cared for Duncan may have become infected.
What we need to do is all take responsibility for improving the safety of those on the front lines, he said at the press conference. All of us have to work together to do whatever is possible to reduce the risk that any other healthcare worker becomes infected.
Frieden said the CDC planned to increased Ebola training, education and outreach for workers at the Dallas hospital, and at hospitals across the country, and was investigating how the nurse had become infected, even though she was wearing proper equipment while caring for Duncan. Investigators were particularly concerned with the removal of personal protective equipment, he said.