The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has come under scrutiny for pointing the finger of blame at a nurse who contracted the deadly Ebola virus while caring for an Ebola patent in Dallas.
The nurse, who treated Thomas Eric Duncan in the isolation unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, is the 2nd person to be diagnosed with Ebola on U.S. soil. Duncan, who was the first person diagnosed in the U.S., died on Oct. 8.
“We don’t know what occurred in the care of the index patient, the original patient in Dallas,” said Frieden on Sunday morning, “but at some point, there was a breach in protocol, and that breach in protocol resulted in this infection.”
“Unfortunately it is possible in the coming days that we will see additional cases of Ebola,” Frieden said during a press conference. “Because the health care workers who cared for [Duncan] may have had a breach of the same nature of the [nurse] who appears now to have a preliminary positive test.”
The CDC’s preemptive finger pointing at the health care worker is raising concern among doctors and nurses, who say health care workers are not properly trained to treat patients with Ebola.
“The comments from CDC early on that [treating Ebola patients] could be done in any hospital that is used to doing isolation just doesn’t ring true to me,” said ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser.
“Groups like Doctors Without Borders, they have incredible training in this, and they practice it, and it’s the practicing that ensures that you don’t have a slip-up,” he said. “For our first patient in America to lead already to a health care worker getting sick really raises a concern to me.”
“To do it safely, health care workers need to train and practice using protective equipment,” he said. “I would never have gone into an Ebola ward in Africa without being dressed and decontaminated by experts — health care workers here should expect no less.
Dr. Natalie Azar, a rheumatologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, agreed with Dr. Besser.
“The unfortunate thing with this, if we look at all the missteps with Mr. Duncan’s case, one thing is to initiate and advise on protocol, and compliance with that protocol is another thing altogether,” she said in an interview with MSNBC’s Alex Witt on Sunday. “What the failure in the Dallas system was, was a complete failure of communication.”
Only 4 hospitals in the country have isolation units that specialize in treating and containing infectious diseases like Ebola and Marburg. Still, the White House refuses to order the mandatory transfer of Ebola patients to one of those 4 hospitals for treatment.