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Dallas Hospital Slams Union's Allegations over Ebola Procedures

Stew­art F. House/Getty Images(DALLAS) — A Dal­las hos­pi­tal Thurs­day defended its processes and pro­ce­dures after a nurses’ union crit­i­cized it for alleged lapses in the treat­ment of a patient with Ebola who later died.

In the state­ment released Thurs­day morn­ing, author­i­ties with Texas Health Pres­by­ter­ian Hos­pi­tal said work­ers fol­lowed guide­lines estab­lished by the U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion after patient Thomas Eric Dun­can was diag­nosed with Ebola.

Dun­can first arrived at the hos­pi­tal Sept. 26, and was sent home with antibi­otics and Tylenol before return­ing via ambu­lance days later.

Dun­can died Oct. 8, and two of the nurses who treated him — Nina Pham and Amber Vin­son — have since tested pos­i­tive for the virus. Fed­eral author­i­ties are still try­ing to fig­ure out how the nurses con­tracted Ebola, with offi­cials blam­ing a breach in pro­to­col for the situation.

Accord­ing to the hospital’s state­ment in response to a release from National Nurses United, the patient’s sam­ples were han­dled with sen­si­tiv­ity to avoid a poten­tial contamination.

All spec­i­mens were placed into closed spec­i­mens bags and placed inside a plas­tic car­rier that travel through a pneu­matic sys­tem. At no time did Mr. Duncan’s spec­i­mens leak or spill — either from their bag or their car­rier — into the tube sys­tem,” the state­ment reads.

The hos­pi­tal also addressed the union’s alle­ga­tions of improper pro­tec­tive gear at the facil­ity, stat­ing that hoods were ordered due to worker con­cerns that the skin on their neck was exposed — and that nurses’ inter­ac­tions with Dun­can were con­sis­tent with CDC guidelines.

The response fol­lows a pre­vi­ous state­ment by National Nurses United, the country’s largest nurses’ union, issued on behalf of sev­eral nurses at the hospital.

National Nurses United has not issued a response to the hospital’s lat­est statement.

Ear­lier, the hos­pi­tal said that it mis­han­dled Duncan’s case by orig­i­nally send­ing him home even after he had a fever and said he was from Liberia.

Unfor­tu­nately, in our ini­tial treat­ment of Mr. Dun­can, despite our best inten­tions and a highly skilled med­ical team, we made mis­takes,” Dr. Daniel Varga, the chief clin­i­cal offi­cer for Texas Health Ser­vices, said in writ­ten tes­ti­mony to the House Energy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee. “We did not cor­rectly diag­nose his symp­toms as those of Ebola. We are deeply sorry.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


Union Demands Obama Take Action to Protect Nurses from Ebola

Zoonar/Thinkstock(SILVER SPRING, Md.) — The nation’s largest nurses’ union called upon Pres­i­dent Obama Wednes­day to use his exec­u­tive author­ity to make hos­pi­tals nation­wide fol­low the same pro­to­col in treat­ing Ebola patients as Nebraska Med­ical Cen­ter in Omaha, which spe­cial­izes in deal­ing with patients infected with the deadly virus.

The demand by the National Nurses United dur­ing a con­fer­ence call fol­lowed on the heels of com­plaints by nurses from Texas Health Pres­by­ter­ian Health Hos­pi­tal in Dal­las that no pro­ce­dures were in place when Thomas Eric Dun­can was admit­ted to the facil­ity after being diag­nosed with Ebola.

Dun­can died on Oct. 8 but not before he exposed dozens of health care work­ers at the hos­pi­tal to the virus that has rav­aged West Africa. Two nurses at Texas Health Pres­by­ter­ian have tested pos­i­tive for Ebola.

The NNU reit­er­ated the nurses’ crit­i­cisms Wednes­day that included leav­ing Dun­can alone with patients before he was put in iso­la­tion; not giv­ing nurses the proper pro­tec­tive gear; fail­ure to dis­pense with Ebola con­t­a­m­i­nated waste; and improp­erly send­ing Duncan’s sam­ples through a pneu­matic tube system.

As a result, the NNU said the pres­i­dent should make cer­tain that all hos­pi­tals to fol­low the guide­lines used at the Nebraska Med­ical Cen­ter in Omaha, which has treated two Ebola patients so far. It is just one of four facil­i­ties that are specif­i­cally designed to do so.

All nurses must wear haz­mat suits that meet high stan­dards when treat­ing Ebola patients, the NNU said, because they are “our first line of defense.”

In a response, Wen­dell Wat­son, a spokesman for the Dal­las Hos­pi­tal said that, “patient and employee safety is our great­est pri­or­ity and we take com­pli­ance very seri­ously. We have numer­ous mea­sures in place to pro­vide a safe work­ing envi­ron­ment, includ­ing manda­tory annual train­ing and a 24–7 hot­line and other mech­a­nisms that allow for anony­mous report­ing. Our nurs­ing staff is com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing qual­ity, com­pas­sion­ate care, as we have always known, and as the world has seen first­hand in recent days. We will con­tinue to review and respond to any con­cerns raised by our nurses and all employees.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


Texas Hospital, Frontier Airlines Take Cautionary Steps to Prevent Further Transmission of Ebola

Will Mont­gomery(DALLAS) — After a sec­ond health care worker at a Dal­las hos­pi­tal was found to be infected with the Ebola virus after treat­ing Thomas Eric Dun­can, both Texas Health Pres­by­ter­ian Hos­pi­tal and Fron­tier Air­lines — the air­line on which the worker flew to Ohio over the week­end — have taken steps to pre­vent fur­ther trans­mis­sion of the disease.

With a sec­ond one of our health care work­ers now infected with the Ebola virus despite fol­low­ing rec­om­mended pro­tec­tion pro­ce­dures, Texas Health Dal­las is offer­ing a room to any of our impacted employ­ees who would like to stay here to avoid even the remote pos­si­bil­ity of any poten­tial expo­sure to fam­ily, friends and the broader pub­lic,” a hos­pi­tal state­ment read. “We are doing this for our employ­ees’ peace of mind and com­fort,” the state­ment read, not­ing that “this is not a med­ical recommendation.”

The hos­pi­tal also reminded employ­ees that they are not con­ta­gious “unless and until” they show symp­toms of the dis­ease. Still, the hos­pi­tal asked all poten­tially affected employ­ees “to be the good cit­i­zens that we know they are by avoid­ing using pub­lic trans­porta­tion or engag­ing in any activ­i­ties that could poten­tially put oth­ers at risk.”

Fron­tier Air­lines CEO David Siegel sent a let­ter to employ­ees pro­vid­ing fur­ther details after it was deter­mined that the nurse, Amber Vin­son, had flown on one of their flights to Cleve­land on Oct. 10 and returned to Dal­las on Oct. 13.

Siegel says the air­line was informed that the woman was a pas­sen­ger on one of their flights on Wednes­day, and that they had pro­vided the U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion with cus­tomer con­tact infor­ma­tion, removed the plane in ques­tion from ser­vice and reached out to cus­tomers inde­pen­dently of the CDC.

In the let­ter, Spiegel notes that on Wednes­day after­noon, the CDC informed the air­line that Vin­son could have been symp­to­matic ear­lier than ini­tially believed — “includ­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of pos­sess­ing symp­toms while onboard the flight.” CDC spokesper­son Tom Skin­ner told ABC News, how­ever, that Vin­son was not con­sid­ered con­ta­gious at the time of the flight and that the only symp­tom she exhib­ited at the time was a fever.

While the plane was cleaned mul­ti­ple times, the com­pany opted to keep the plain out of ser­vice and pro­vide a fourth clean­ing since Vin­son was onboard. Seat cov­ers and car­pets sur­round­ing the area where Vin­son sat will be removed.

Addi­tion­ally, Fron­tier has placed six crew mem­bers on paid leave for 21 days “out of an abun­dance of cau­tion,” even though “CDC guidance…stated that our flight crews were safe to fly.”

Vin­son was trans­ported to Emory Uni­ver­sity Hos­pi­tal on Wednes­day, one of two with spe­cial­ized iso­la­tion units which have suc­cess­fully treated Ebola patients.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


Why Dr. Kent Brantly Couldn't Donate Blood to Thomas Eric Duncan

JarekJoepera/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Thomas Eric Dun­can, the first per­son in the United States to be diag­nosed with Ebola and who later died, didn’t receive a blood trans­fu­sion from a physi­cian who sur­vived the virus because their blood types didn’t match.

Dr. Kent Brantly told ABC News Wednes­day that his blood type is A+, while Duncan’s fam­ily has said his blood type was B+, mak­ing them incom­pat­i­ble for a trans­fu­sion of whole blood or plasma. Blood trans­fu­sions from some­one who suc­cess­fully bat­tled the dis­ease are believed to be ben­e­fi­cial to Ebola patients.

Because of the incom­pat­i­bil­ity of blood types, had Dun­can received a blood trans­fu­sion from Brantly, it would have caused hemol­y­sis — the break­down of red blood cells — accord­ing to Dr. Christo­pher Stow­ell, direc­tor of Trans­fu­sion Med­i­cine at Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­eral Hospital.

Brantly was car­ing for sick Ebola patients with the aid group Samaritan’s Purse in Mon­rovia, Liberia, when he became the first Amer­i­can diag­nosed with Ebola in late July. He said he has since given blood to Ashoka Mukpo, Dr. Richard Sacra and Nina Pham.

Dun­can died last Wednes­day at a hos­pi­tal in Dal­las where he was being treated. Accord­ing to Texas Health Pres­by­ter­ian Hos­pi­tal, where Dun­can was being treated, Dun­can did not receive any kind of blood trans­fu­sion because his blood type was not com­pat­i­ble with any of the donors.

Two health work­ers who treated Dun­can have since tested pos­i­tive for the virus.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


Plane Used by Ebola-Infected Nurse Was Cleaned, Put Back in Service

File photo. Fron­tierAir­lines(NEW YORK) — The plane that trans­ported an Ebola-infected nurse from Cleve­land to Dal­las was cleaned and put back into ser­vice the next day, accord­ing to Fron­tier Airlines.

The plane has flown to at least one other U.S. city after being cleaned in Dal­las, accord­ing to the air­line, which con­firmed it was cleaned again in Cleve­land on Tuesday.

Amber Vin­son, 29, is the sec­ond health care worker from Dal­las to be infected with Ebola. Vin­son flew Fron­tier Air­lines Flight 1143 from Cleve­land to Dal­las on Mon­day, land­ing a lit­tle after 8 p.m., author­i­ties said. Vin­son was put into iso­la­tion in Dal­las the fol­low­ing day after arriv­ing at the hos­pi­tal with a fever. The 29-year-old has tested pos­i­tive for Ebola in pre­lim­i­nary tests, offi­cials said.

The U.S. Cen­ters of Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion is reach­ing out to 132 pas­sen­gers who were on the same flight as Vin­son to mon­i­tor them for any signs of the dis­ease, CDC Direc­tor Tom Frieden said Wednes­day dur­ing a news conference.

Fron­tier Air­lines stressed that the flight was the last of the day and that the plane was cleaned “within CDC guide­lines” after Vinson’s flight.

The car­rier has not con­firmed what other cities the plane was flown to besides Cleveland.

Dur­ing Wednesday’s new con­fer­ence, Frieden said Vin­son “should not have trav­eled on a com­mer­cial airline.”

Accord­ing to the CDC, Vin­son reported no Ebola symp­toms dur­ing the flight. But Frieden said the nurse should not have been fly­ing at all per CDC guide­lines, Frieden said.

When Vin­son first trav­eled to Ohio, there had been no reported cases from health work­ers in Dal­las, Frieden said. How­ever, once Dal­las nurse Nina Pharm tested pos­i­tive, Vin­son should not have been using pub­lic trans­porta­tion, he said.

Because at that point she was in a group of indi­vid­u­als known to have expo­sure to Ebola, she should not have trav­eled on a com­mer­cial air­line,” Frieden said.

From this moment for­ward, we will ensure that no indi­vid­ual mon­i­tored for expo­sure under­goes travel in any way other than con­trolled move­ment,” he said refer­ring to non-public trans­porta­tion, such as a per­sonal car or char­tered flight.

Flight 1143 from Cleve­land to Dal­las was an Air­bus 320 capa­ble of seat­ing 168 pas­sen­gers, accord­ing to Flight Aware. Vinson’s flight was delayed more than two hours accord­ing to Flight Aware, after storms swept through the Mid­west on Monday.

Cleve­land Hop­kins Inter­na­tional Air­port Direc­tor Ricky Smith said that since Wednes­day morn­ing, the Fron­tier Air­lines air­craft has been decon­t­a­m­i­nated twice at a remote loca­tion at the air­port. It was sched­uled for a flight to Den­ver Wednes­day, Smith said.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


What Latest Ebola Infection Says About Odds of Widespread US Outbreak

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Fears that a wide­spread out­break of Ebola in the United States were height­ened Wednes­day as health offi­cials revealed that a sec­ond Dal­las nurse infected with Ebola flew on an air­plane just a day before being placed in isolation.

And as trou­bling as this sec­ond case may be, espe­cially in terms of pos­si­ble lapses in pro­to­col, it also could serve as a much-needed wake-up call to pub­lic health offi­cials nation­wide about how vig­i­lant they must be, experts said.

The issue is with the health care work­ers at hos­pi­tal in Dal­las who were exposed while car­ing for a sick indi­vid­ual. The aver­age per­son does not have to be con­cerned,” said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of pre­ven­tive med­i­cine at Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­sity Med­ical Cen­ter in Nashville, Tennessee.

The dif­fi­cul­ties at the Dal­las hos­pi­tal aside, the over­all pub­lic health response has been swift and effi­cient, Schaffner said. As soon as the two indi­vid­u­als with infec­tion were iden­ti­fied, health offi­cials acted imme­di­ately to iso­late them from the gen­eral pub­lic, he pointed out. Their con­tacts were quickly found and put under sur­veil­lance, he said, and their homes and belong­ings were disinfected.

Imme­di­ate quar­an­tine or iso­la­tion is one of the keys to pre­vent­ing a large scale out­break, explained Dr. Peter Hotez, a mem­ber of the Texas task force of infec­tious dis­ease pre­pared­ness and response set up by Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Patients can­not spread the virus to oth­ers until they them­selves show symp­toms, Hotez said. At the begin­ning of their ill­ness they are not very con­ta­gious and can­not infect oth­ers through casual con­tact such as shak­ing hands or touch­ing the skin. Also, unlike the cold or flu, Ebola is not air­borne, which means it doesn’t linger in the air.

Patients become more and more con­ta­gious as the dis­ease pro­gresses because viral load increases and more organ sys­tems involved,” said Hotez, who is also the dean of the National School of Trop­i­cal Med­i­cine at Bay­lor Col­lege of Med­i­cine in Houston.

Health care work­ers are at high risk for Ebola because an Ebola patient near the end of life or after death will be com­pletely sat­u­rated with virus, includ­ing the skin, Schaffner said. Nurses and doc­tors can become infected with­out proper pro­tec­tive gear, and the virus might enter the body through cuts or when they touch their eyes, nose or mouth, he said. This is also why the U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion has issued very spe­cific guide­lines for the han­dling of deceased Ebola patients, includ­ing dis­in­fect­ing the body and wrap­ping it in plas­tic before bur­ial or cremation.

Schaffner said he is actu­ally encour­aged by how imme­di­ate the pub­lic health response has been in Dal­las. It is also a good sign that so far none of the fam­ily or friends of Thomas Eric Dun­can — the first patient to die of Ebola in the U.S. — have become ill. With their 21-day quar­an­tine period almost at an end, it doesn’t appear the virus had a chance to spread, he said.

This is a ter­ri­bly impor­tant les­son that virus is not going to run ram­pant in Dal­las or any­where else in the U.S.,” Schaffner said. “Let’s not for­get that we’ve done some things right.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


Marathon Runner Won't Let Allergy to Exercise Hold Her Back

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Mary John­son was on one of her reg­u­lar runs last August when her eyes became itchy and her tongue started to swell. Soon, her body was cov­ered in hives as her eye­lids, lips and throat started to bal­loon, too.

It was hap­pen­ing again.

John­son, 27, has what is called exercise-induced ana­phy­laxis — a rare exer­cise allergy.

My throat was so swollen that I had gone from hav­ing a normal-sounding voice…to almost no voice at all in a mat­ter of min­utes,” John­son wrote on her blog, “In the past, my voice had always been intact.”

Her in-laws rushed her to the emer­gency room as her eyes became so swollen she could barely see. Once there, doc­tors injected her with epi­neph­rine and intu­bated her to keep her air­way open as her throat closed. She wound up stay­ing in the inten­sive care unit overnight amid fears that she would have a sec­ond reaction.

Although John­son is a marathoner who runs up to six times a week, she has had only three seri­ous exer­cise allergy attacks in her life, each one worse than the last, she told ABC News. She also has the occa­sional “mini-attack” with just a tingly mouth and some swelling that she can treat her­self with some Benadryl at home, she said.

The first one hap­pened when she was 18 and went out for a morn­ing run before break­fast. Because she hadn’t eaten any­thing and didn’t test pos­i­tive for any food aller­gies, doc­tors even­tu­ally diag­nosed her with exercise-induced anaphylaxis.

Dr. Kent Knauer, an aller­gist at UH Case Med­ical Cen­ter in Cleve­land, said exercise-induced ana­phy­laxis is so rare that what exactly trig­gers it is unknown. He’s never met John­son, and said he’s seen only four or five cases in his 25-year career.

Some exercise-induced ana­phy­laxis cases are tied to food, Knauer said. Oth­ers, like Johnson’s, are not. He said he had one patient who only had an aller­gic reac­tion if she ate corn a few hours before exercising.

In her case, if she eats corn, it’s no prob­lem. If she exer­cises, it’s no prob­lem,” he said. “If she eats corn within one or two hours of exer­cise, she has a mild form of anaphylaxis.”

John­son said she has met a few other peo­ple with exercise-induced ana­phy­laxis, and that she con­sid­ers her­self lucky not to have more fre­quent attacks. But her attacks are more severe than those of other peo­ple she knows with the allergy.

Although Johnson’s been told to con­sider slow­ing down from time to time, she said she loves to run. And she’s good at it. She qual­i­fied for the Boston Marathon in 2013 and ran it in 3 hours, 8 min­utes and 34 sec­onds. That’s a 7-minute-and-12-second mile. And when she runs a half marathon, she can run a mile in 6 min­utes and 45 seconds.

Still, she said, her allergy requires her to be extra care­ful. She never runs too far from home, always knows where her epi­neph­rine pen is, and never leaves for a run with­out telling some­one where she’s going. Although she’s had three seri­ous attacks, she reminds her­self that she has had hun­dreds of work­outs over the years with no attacks at all.

Don’t let it shape who you are,” she said.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


Every Adult over 45 Should Be Tested for Type 2 Diabetes

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Nobody wants to learn that they have type 2 dia­betes, which means the pan­creas can’t make enough insulin to keep the body’s cells func­tion­ing prop­erly. How­ever, by know­ing that you do have the con­di­tion, it can be man­aged through med­ica­tion and lifestyle changes.

As a result, the U.S. Pre­ven­tive Ser­vices Task Force is rec­om­mend­ing that every adult over the age of 45 should be tested for type 2 dia­betes and pre­di­a­betes. The test is also par­tic­u­larly urged for peo­ple at a higher risk for dia­betes, includ­ing those with a fam­ily his­tory of the dis­ease, obese peo­ple and those who have been diag­nosed with high blood pres­sure or high cholesterol.

Mean­while, those with pre­di­a­betes can reduce the risk of devel­op­ing type 2 dia­betes by nearly 50 per­cent through a proper diet and exercise.

The blood sugar test is report­edly sim­ple and inexpensive.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio