Some hospitals may withhold care from Ebola patients

Some U.S. hospitals may withhold medical interventions from Ebola patients for the sake of their workers' safety, Reuters reports.

In the wake of the death of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient diagnosed with the virus in the U.S., and his transmission of the infection to two nurses, hospitals are developing protocols that limit patient care to protect staff, according to the article. At least three hospital officials told Reuters their systems may either withhold individual procedures or leave interventions up to doctors' discretion.

"This is another example of how this 21st century viral threat has pulled us back into the 19th century," medical historian Howard Markel, M.D., of the University of Michigan told Reuters.

Meanwhile, patients exposed to Ebola are unlikely to receive workers' compensation, according to the Insurance Journal. For an illness to be compensable under workers' compensation, it must be both occupational--coming up within the course and scope of employment--and the result of circumstances "peculiar" to the work, according to the article.

Under these requirements, Ebola would most likely not qualify for most employers, according to the article. "Unless it can be proven that the employee has an increased risk of contracting Ebola because of a peculiarity of his job, this virus is not occupational. Employees working in the healthcare industry may be able to prove such increased risk as they have little choice but expose themselves to the bacteria as a regular part of their job duties," the article states. "Beyond healthcare workers, not many employments will qualify for workers' compensation protection due to Ebola."

In a column for Morning Consult, American Hospital Association President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock argues that information is the best resource for preventing the spread of infectious diseases such as Ebola. "We embrace the responsibility to keep learning--and to act to put learning into practice," he writes.

To learn more:
- here's the Reuters article
- read the Insurance Journal article
- check out the column

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