Penn Medicine News Blog

August 22, 2014 // By Steve Graff // Comments

Ebola Prompts Extraordinary Precautions in Hospitals

Global Medicine // Infectious Disease

Article-2714168-20347B4A00000578-650_634x482We’ve all seen the vivid footage on the news these past few weeks:  Two hospital workers donned in full body hazmat suits and respirators helping the Americans who fell victim to the Ebola virus out of an ambulance and into air-tight rooms. To many, it seems like the best way to prevent infections to staff and other patients, given that the West African outbreak is the worst the planet has ever seen, with almost 2,000 people infected and over a 1,000 dead.  But are all these extraordinary precautions in U.S. hospitals really warranted?

This week, in an editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Neil Fishman, MD, associate chief medical officer in the University of Pennsylvania Health System, and researchers from Harvard and the University of Iowa help clear the air by sticking to the science.

Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends: Patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola should be placed in a single room with staff required to wear gowns, gloves, surgical mask and goggles. If an aerosol-generating procedure (like intubation or bronchoscopy) is called for, the agency then recommends wearing a more protective mask and placing the patient in a negative-pressure room. 

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