How Dangerous Is The Ebola Outbreak?

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Global-Health-ChallengesHow dangerous is this current Ebola outbreak in Western Africa?  It seems as though it is inevitable that at some point someone infected with the virus will end up traveling to the United States from West Africa.  Hospitals around the country are preparing for this incident by purchasing proper garmets in order for medical workers to wear.  The curious thing is that the C.D.C. has said that health care workers need only wear protective masks and gloves.  However, hospitals are prepping to outfit workers in much more protection, akin to the “moon suits” that have been visible in news reports and photos from Africa, and what health care workers there are wearing.  Vomiting is one of the main concerns, as it isn’t always apparent when it’s going to happen, and vomit can spread the disease.

Although Ebola is not easily spread, it is still a highly contagious disease:

The protocol for hospital workers is to identify anyone who complains of severe flu-like symptoms and has recently visited West Africa. Those individuals would immediately be placed in an isolation unit. But county health officials’ stress, Ebola, in particular, is not easily transmitted.

“You have to be exposed to blood or vomit on you or your eyes, it isn’t just coughing. You cannot pass it to someone from coughing on them,” Ballon-Landa said.

Hospitals around the country are working hard to stay on top of the progression of the virus, and are also preparing to quarantine patients who are complaining of severe flu-like symptoms and have recently traveled to West Africa.

Tracking the virus via computers is easy, and hospitals are often having staff monitor the news closely in order to remain on top of any breaking stories.  Some local hospitals have even called in tech crews to create special breaking news hubs, and have refurbished a lot of computers in order to create these and save hospitals money at the same time.

Hospital computer systems are notoriously out of date as it becomes expensive to replace them on a consistent basis.  That is why tech support teams have been hired to keep these systems as up to date as possible and provide adequate security measures such as virus protection and antispyware software.  Other tech services are often employed in order to monitor hospital networks for suspicious activity, as it has been recently reported that someone hacked a hospital network in order to transmit fake prescriptions to local pharmacies.


Changing Attitudes Towards Pre Hospital Care And Medical Roles

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hospitalcareThere are a lot of opinions out there on prehospital care, but the overall theology these days needs to be cooperation and teamwork rather than bullying.

Those who provide prehospital care, and those who develop prehospital care systems, may need to expand their views of traditional roles, and if necessary abandon old stereotypes, to see how they may best serve this movement. As stated on page 83 of the report, “they must have both a narrow and broad view of the responsibilities” not only for the immediate care for an individual patient but also for the improved and more efficient care that an improved system can bring to a great number of patients.

Too often, one type of health-care provider does not recognize the contributions to patient care that another health-care provider of a different background may be able to give, even within his or her particular area of expertise. It is therefore important for the EMT who reads this report to recognize that there are many organizations and professions not commonly associated with EMS that need to be actively involved, providing input for prehospital care for children. Likewise, it is necessary for the pediatric intensivist or medical school chair of pediatrics to understand that EMTs, paramedics, and other prehospital care providers may be the most appropriately trained personnel to provide medical care for pediatric patients in the prehospital phase of the system and that emergency physicians, who have experience in rapid assessment, resuscitation, and trauma care as an integral part of their training in emergency medicine, also have a key role in the care of the ill child.(19)

When health-care providers from different backgrounds interact, rather than posturing and pushing that area about which they know the most they all need to recognize that no one individual or type of health-care provider has a broad enough background to deal definitively and completely with all EMS-C issues within the EMS system, whether on a national or a local level. Individuals and committees dealing with EMS-C issues should actively seek input from a wide variety of professional backgrounds. One great strength of this document is that it encourages many individuals with various areas of expertise to come together and work collectively to provide the best EMS care possible for children.

EMS-C health-care professionals, insurance companies, and society as a whole need to recognize that in the larger picture, a day spent treating patients in the emergency department or prehospital setting, a day spent conducting prevention programs, and a day spent lobbying for promotion of legislation for provision of a child bicycle safety helmet law are all important ways to reduce death and suffering for children and are generally, when done well, more efficient ways to reduce suffering or mortality than a day of intensive-care-unit or rehabilitation care. Legislative work is needed to support the commitment to save lives and reduce the effects of illness. Because many of the efforts required to improve EMS-C care (such as prevention programs, research projects, legislative involvement, and rehabilitation issues) are not within the traditional scope of the practice of the many of the various types of emergency care provider, it may be necessary to alter the reimbursement schemes and scopes of practice to allow these services to occur.

Cook, Richard T., Jr. “The Institute of Medicine report on emergency medical services for children: thoughts for emergency medical technicians, paramedics, and emergency physicians.” Pediatrics July 1995: 199+.