As the Ebola virus outbreak spirals out of control into a world-wide crisis, with a death toll of more than 1,100 and counting, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response this week released a checklist for hospitals to help clinicians manage patients carrying the virus.
The checklist aims to give hospital staff, particularly clinical practitioners, and emergency and infection control managers, a rundown of what to review if and when an Ebola patient arrives at their hospitals. Despite the small number of known Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases in the United States, the checklist states, "now is the time to prepare, as it is possible that individuals with EVD in West Africa may travel to the United States, exhibit signs and symptoms of EVD and present to facilities."
The checklist urges hospitals to:
Train frontline workers to recognize Ebola's signs and symptoms
Review emergency department triage procedures
Keep state or local health departments in the loop during the testing stages
Make sure lab personnel understand specimen collection/transport/testing guidelines
In August, the CDC issued guidelines for patients unconfirmed to be carrying the virus but exhibiting symptoms, FierceHealthcare previously reported.
So far American hospitals have treated four confirmed cases. A fourth patient from West Africa carrying the Ebola virus arrived this week at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, the third to seek treatment at the hospital, according to CBS 46. Emory hospital previously treated two American missionaries who have since been discharged. A third American, a doctor from Worcester, Massachusetts who was treating pregnant women in the ELWA Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, is currently receiving treatment at Nebraska Medical Center.
The unidentified patient is currently being assessed, Aneesh Metha, M.D., of Emory told CBS 46, and hospital staff will concentrate on the patient's "long run support of the body's reparative mechanism so they can heal." Emory CEO Bob Bachman said the hospital "felt a moral obligation" to accept patients with the virus, FierceHealthcare previously reported.
Meanwhile, researchers say 15 more countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Mozambique and Malawi, are at risk of Ebola exposure, according to an Oxford study published in the journal eLife. "Increasing population sizes and international connectivity by air since the first detection of EVD in 1976 suggest that the dynamics of human-to-human secondary transmission in contemporary outbreaks will be very different to those of the past," the study states. The World Health Organization has declared the virus outbreak an international emergency.