CDC tightens Ebola infection control guidelines for U.S. health care workers

October 21, 2014
Area(s) of Interest: Infectious Diseases Public Health 

Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Services (CDC) announced tighter infection control guidelines for health care workers caring for patients with Ebola. This guidance focuses on personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers and offers detailed step-by-step instructions for how to put the equipment on and take it off safely. 

The CDC's new guidance centers on three principles: all health care workers should undergo rigorous and repeated training for putting on and taking off PPE; no skin should be exposed when wearing PPE; and all workers should be “supervised by a trained monitor who watches each worker putting PPE on and taking it off.”

The guidelines reflect the experience of the safe treatment of patients with Ebola by health care workers at Emory University Hospital, Nebraska Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. None of the workers at these facilities have contracted the illness, despite treating Ebola patients.

The CDC also reminds U.S. health care workers to “Think Ebola” and to “Care Carefully.” This includes asking patients for a detailed travel and exposure history for those who exhibit fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and unexplained hemorrhage.

The CDC also reminds all employers and health care workers that PPE is only one aspect of infection control and providing safe care to patients with Ebola. Other aspects include "five pillars of safety":

  1. Facility leadership has responsibility to provide resources and support for implementation of effective prevention precautions. Management should maintain a culture of worker safety in which appropriate PPE is available and correctly maintained, and workers are provided with appropriate training.

  2. There is a designated onsite Ebola site manager responsible for oversight of implementing precautions for health care personnel and patient safety in the facility.

  3. Facilities should have clear, standardized procedures and a back-up plan in case supplies are not available.

  4. Facilities need to ensure all health care providers practice numerous times to make sure they understand how to appropriately use the equipment.

  5. Oversight of practices are critical to ensuring that implementation protocols are done accurately, and any error in putting on or taking off PPE is identified in real-time, corrected and addressed, in case potential exposure occurred.

Click here to read the full CDC Fact Sheet.


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