Can I Refuse to Take an Ebola Patient?

Friday, October 17, 2014 0 Comments A + a -

Ebola in the car radio, Ebola during lunchtime, Ebola in the nurse’s station, Ebola at home, Ebola
is the hot ongoing topic everywhere.  Even my fourteen-year old mentions Ebola as we eat dinner. Forgive me, NaBloPoMo, the topic of campfire is just not on my mind today.

refuse ebola patient nurse blog comic

The first time I heard the word, the first thing that came to mind are the commercials of Ricola, when the word is said in the last part of the ad—REEH-coh-lah, REE-coh-la. . .  Okay, maybe it is just me.

Today, we had a meeting, a question-and-answer interaction with the big people at work--the Chief Nursing Officer, and others, with my co-nurses.  The intention is to ease are worries. 
They are ordering the super-barrier stuff that is beyond what the Center for Disease Control is requiring.  

What is required?  The minimum requirement, they said, are the ones we have been using for other isolation patients--mask with eye shield, blue plastic gown, and gloves.  These are nowhere close to what are shown on TV taken in Africa that looks like this.  If you click on the links, you will see a huge difference.  Our barrier appears thin and weak with some body parts and pants and shoe exposed (no barrier there).  In Africa picture link, the medical staffs wore barrier all around. They explained that the pictures with super barriers have staff wearing respirators, thus the extensive head covering (in preparation for transferring patient). They are wearing their own negative-air pressure room. On the other hand, we don't normally need this in the hospital as our patients will be placed in negative air pressure hospital rooms. Maybe, at the very least we will get this set-up.

Refuse to Take Ebola Patients

For the meantime, we use what we have (the minimum protective barriers) for a suspected Ebola patient.  A question in my mind that I was afraid to ask is can I refuse to take an assignment to take care of such a patient.  

I am no hero like nurse Pham.  I am selfish and I am afraid to acquire the disease and possibly face death.  I went through this with my cancer.  I am not even out of the woods yet.  I have three more years of being cancer free before I can declare myself as a cancer survivor.  I am the sole provider of my teens.  If I die . . . 

Anyway, can I refuse to take care of a potential Ebola virus infected patient?  There was no clear answer but our CNO mentioned the ethics issue.  Is it unethical to refuse to take care of such patient?  I think my question is answered.  I can be fired if I refuse.

I just hope Ebola becomes just a history very soon in the United States.  

Die Ebola virus.

For now, the Ebola issue is going to my worry file.

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