Wednesday, October 08, 2014

can I refuse to care for an ebola patient?

News that a Spanish nursing assistant has ebola.  She helped care for 2 Spanish missionaries. This is the first time a health care worker outside of Africa has come down with ebola.  That isn't supposed to happen in our modern shiny white health care system where everything is perfect.  We have the protocols, the equipment, right?  Right?

So supposedly this poor woman followed all the protocol and she still has ebola. WTF? From what I have read, the thought is, any health care workers who have died in Africa were probably contaminated taking off the suit. You would think that if any group of people know how to remove the suit, it would be the healthcare workers in Africa.   I'm sure they did exactly as they were told.
but they still got ebola and many died.

So this raises the question: Can a healthcare worker refuse to care for someone with ebola? You probably think: What?! Hey you signed up to care for anyone who came through the knew what you were getting into when you took the job.  True that, but this is way, way different.  We are talking death here folks. We are talking possibly making our family sick.  We are dedicated,
but are we that dedicated?

This reminds me of when HIV came in a big way to the US.  It was terrifying. Little was known about it. Nurses actually quit because they were so scared of it.

So can I as a nurse refuse care? Sure I can. I'll get fired, but I can. I have the same rights to not be forced to do something as anyone else.  Would I?  Thats a tough one. I honestly don't know.  The position I am in, in the emergency department, the option of not having contact with a potential ebola patient is not one that will be given to me. If I'm the triage nurse, its possible.  I don't know what's wrong with you when you walk up to the desk.  Am I going to run away?  No.  I'll do what I need to do, put the mask on you, put you in the isolation room.

As far as whether I would, if I worked inpatient, be willing to care for an ebola patient? I have a husband. I have a son. If I had to care for an ebola patient I wouldn't have contact with them during that time and probably 3 weeks after. I'm not going to take that chance. I'm not in a position where I could quit my job.  Just like you, I have bills to pay. So, bottom line, I guess I would.  Not out of the goodness of my heart, but because I had to.  I am in the same position as health care workers across the world watching this and thinking about it.  It hits home with us a little more than it does the average person


Anonymous said...

I would refuse for sure. Unless they give me a full hazmat suit there is no way I will put on a N95 mask and be cool with it.

Anonymous said...

n95 would filter out only 95% the other 5% would def be enough to kill u