Ebola in the US: Hospital execs must ensure ERs improve policies, procedures

Hospitals that take a few simple steps can minimize the chance that they'll send another Ebola patient home from the emergency room, according to an article published by BHM Healthcare Solutions.

An executive with Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas initially said the fact that the patient had recently traveled from Liberia wasn't communicated to the full emergency department team due to an electronic health record (EHR) flaw. But the hospital later retracted the statement, claiming the patient's travel history was documented and available to the full care team in the EHR, including within the physician's workflow.

The BHM Healthcare Solutions article, published before that revelation, argued for better communication within hospital emergency departments (EDs) and support from senior leaders to improve ED policies and procedures.

Furthermore, the article said, EDs should:

  • Implement documentation improvement programs and hold clinicians accountable for shoddy documentation practices

  • Change their culture to be patient-centered in a meaningful way, funneling profits back into the hospital in ways that improve outcomes

  • Improve transparency to patients even when the department is in the midst of the chaos of an Ebola outbreak

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response released a hospital checklist for managing Ebola patients, in particular those traveling from West Africa. The checklist recommends reviewing ED triage procedures and training hospital personnel to recognize the signs and symptoms of the virus.

But a survey of nurses across the U.S. reveals that most don't think their hospitals are prepared to handle Ebola, according to National Nurses United.

For more information:
- read the article

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