Ebola is here. Each of you has probably received an email from your leadership team stressing the importance of obtaining a travel history on every patient with concerning symptoms. It’s possible you have been trying to reassure your friends and family members that the chance they will contract Ebola is virtually nonexistent. While the media initially looked to assign fault regarding how a patient with Ebola was seen and discharged from a hospital, there is no surprise to me that a system failure was the root cause. In order for us to care for our patients safely, the entire healthcare team must have access to the same information. I am willing to guess each of us can provide examples about documentation that is not easily accessible by a teammate.
ENA is committed to ensuring you, our members, have the information and resources you need to safely care for patients with Ebola and other infectious diseases. Yesterday I had a great conversation with Alex Roseneau, the ACEP president. He and I agreed that now is a time we come together as emergency care providers. In order for us to learn from the situation in Dallas, we need to recognize it takes nurses and physicians working together as a team to identify high-risk patients and take appropriate action. Now more than ever we need to partner together and recognize we are the front line to prevent an epidemic here in the United States.
The lessons here are strikingly similar to those I have shared all year. We need to be accountable and report when system flaws are present so they can be corrected. We need to speak up when something doesn’t feel quite right. We need to work to ensure we are communicating effectively to all members of the healthcare team. We need to constantly be seeking out opportunities to learn about new diseases, therapies, treatments, and medications. And when we are not sure, we need to seek out resources to answer our questions.
All of us should know how to properly screen a patient who might be at risk for Ebola. If you are unsure or have questions, here are some resources for you:
- Checklist for Patients Being Evaluated for Ebola Virus Disease in the United States
- CDC Webinar on Ebola Preparedness for the U.S. Healthcare System
- Detailed Hospital Checklist for Ebola Preparedness
- Ebola Virus Disease Screening Criteria
Thank you for all you do to ensure the safety of the patients in your care. Thank you for being the voice of reason when people want to panic. And thank you for working to protect our country from an epidemic. Emergency Nurses Week starts Sunday, October 5. I am looking forward to spending the week with nearly 3,000 of my awesome emergency nursing colleagues and friends at ENA Annual Conference in Indianapolis. For those of you who cannot join us, thanks for holding down the fort while we are gone. Without you we couldn’t be in Indy. Emergency nurses rock! Have a great week!