Do CDC Guidelines properly protect nurses against Ebola?

Do the CDC’s Guidelines on Ebola Put Nurses in Danger?

Nurses: Heroes 24/7

Like firemen rushing into a burning building, healthcare workers are heroes that voluntarily put themselves in harms way in order to protect community members placed in their care.  Those nurses, aides, physicians, and other clinicians depend on their training and protocols to keep them safe.  When new dangers present themselves, such as the emergence of the Ebola virus on American soil,  clinicians depend on the protocols from the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) to guide them in their efforts to keep their patients, as well as themselves, healthy.

Related: Top 5 Ways You Can Protect Yourself From Ebola on an Airplane

CDC Guidelines – Backwards Protection

The CDC guidelines suggest that healthcare workers wear the following protective gear (and how the CDC recommends donning and removing gear):

  • All persons entering the patient room should wear at least:
    • Gloves
    • Gown (fluid resistant or impermeable)
    • Eye protection (goggles or face shield)
    • Facemask
  • Additional Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) might be required in certain situations (e.g., copious amounts of blood, other body fluids, vomit, or feces present in the environment), including but not limited to:
    • Double gloving
    • Disposable shoe covers
    • Leg coverings

The problem with the guidelines is that the gear the CDC suggest using is designed to protect patients from germs and viruses from healthcare workers, and not the reverse.  In other words, the guidelines are backwards.

A physician working in Sierra Leone (left) wears the gear recommended by the CDC as protections against the Ebola Virus.  The setup utilizes gear used by clinicians in the during surgery in the Operating Room (on the right).

A physician working in Sierra Leone (left) wears the gear recommended by the CDC as protections against the Ebola Virus. The setup utilizes gear used by clinicians in the during surgery in the Operating Room (on the right).

Sanjay Gupta Demonstrates How Nurses Are At Risk

In the video, Dr. Gupta demonstrates how infected fluids may be transmitted to healthcare workers as the PPE is removed.

Hospitals Amending the CDC Guidelines to Protect Clinicians

Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center in Colorado follows the guidelines from the CDC, but it uses extra measures practiced at the University of Nebraska where two Ebola patients have been treated.  Clinicians have been training and amending their protocols daily in anticipation for a potential Ebola admission.


Who will take the lead in designing a simple protocol that truly protects healthcare workers from the Ebola virus as the infection spreads across the country?