In the critical care area, there is a high chance of nosocomial infection such as MRSA and pneumonia. Most of the infections can spread via the healthcare workers. Even though doctors and nurses wash their hands, they may forget to clean their pens or stethoscopes, for example. They use the same tools to assess patients without prior cleaning. In the past two years, most hospitals started using disposable EKG cable and blood pressure cuff. However, pulse oximetry is still not disposable and is used from one patient to another (WHO Ebola Response Team, 2014). My most memorable moment in the field of medicine was the day I handled a patient who was wrongly diagnosed with Ebola because the patient came from Africa with high temperature and diarrhea. Tests on the patient the following day produced negative results. I was fearful as I had heard about other medical professionals contacting Ebola while taking care of patients. However, with proper precautions, the chances of medical professionals contacting the virus are minimal.
The news and information about Ebola has rapidly spread around the world when it was reported that the virus causes the highest number of deaths in some countries like Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone where over 8600 people already died (Wiwanitkit, 2014). Amongst the Ebola victims, there was a surgeon who contracted the virus while working in Sierra Leone. He was transported for treatment to the Nebraska Medical Centre; despite all efforts, the man died. The nurses at the medical facility provided Doctor Salia, the surgeon, with all required medication and properly took care of him while trying to protect themselves from the virus. Another victim, Craig Spencer, returned to the United States after contacting Ebola from one of his patients in Guinea; the man survived (West, 2015). The doctors diagnosed his condition in time, put him in isolation, and gave necessary medication that made him survive the ordeal. Dr. Brantly, was flown to Mexico after contacting the Ebola virus at the treatment center in Liberia. He received proper medical care, blood transfusion, and the experimental serum (Mckay & Mcwhirter, 2014). The man survived.
The stories of the Ebola transmission from the patients to their doctors together with my knowledge of Ebola, its symptoms and some of the effects it causes (for example, killing the body cells, weakening the immunity system, as well as severe external and internal bleeding, which damage almost all the body organs) made me even more scared and challenged. The fear of contacting Ebola when I received the patient who was wrongly diagnosed with Ebola made me go against the code of non-maleficence and justice as the patient had to wait for some time while I was trying to gather courage. I felt like I was doing harm rather than good as I tried to avoid that long contact with the patient, which might have cause me contract Ebola. It was the biggest challenge to my professional belief that I should always fairly and equally handle my patients and fight for their health and safety, under any circumstances (Wiwanitkit, 2014).
Ebola is a viral disease with an incubation period of 2 to 21 days. However some cases can go beyond 21 days. The patients start by losing their appetite, experiencing general body weakness, as well as muscle and joint pain. They also suffer from sudden and high fever, which is accompanied by vomiting, pains in the abdomen, breathing problems, and pains in the chest. In some cases, there may be bleedings, both internal and external. Hemorrhage also occurs in the soft tissue membranes and the white of the eye. Blood clotting is decreased, and blood appears in the stool and cough sputum. The survivors of Ebola suffer for 7 to 14 days after the first signs of the disease while death cases occur on the 6 to 16 days. Most usually, the deaths are caused by drop in blood pressure and high loss of blood. The patients get into a coma before death. The survivors develop antibodies against re-infections with the Ebola virus but still experience general body weakness and loss of weight.
Transmission of the Ebola disease takes place only when one gets into direct contact with the blood or fluids of the Ebola infected person. The fluids include tears, vomit, sweat, milk from breasts, and saliva., The transmission through saliva and droplets is possible only at the advanced stages but highly possible through blood and vomit at all stages (Fowler et al., 2014). The virus gets into the body through various entry points such as open wounds, cuts, mouth, and nose. Ebola virus also survives in semen; therefore, it can be transmitted through sexual intercourse even up to 8 days after recovery., The airborne transmission between primates has been ruled out due to the low concentration of the virus in the human lungs. In the lungs of other animals, however, the virus concentration is very high; therefore the airborne transmission is highly possible (Fowler et al., 2014).
Since the declaration of the Ebola crisis, a lot of new facts about the disease have been studied. The nurses use this information to deal with the disease; therefore, the fear of handling the Ebola patients is no longer an issue. Consequently, both doctors and nurses can effectively handle such patients by carefully observing the preventive and treatment measures to ensure own safety. Safe management of the Ebola virus in the healthcare facility includes emergency care (Fowler et al., 2014). As soon as such a patient arrives at ER (emergency room), he or she is isolated (Center for Clinical Standards and Quality, Survey and Certification Group, 2014), albeit the symptoms present. Because of the news about the Ebola virus in the United States, all hospitals today possess the protective tools and equipment for emergency care and high level of isolation care. With the provision of high level of care, all ER staff has been prepared to provide all the care needed. Even in case of a doubtable Ebola report, the healthcare staff has to prepare and handle it with a lot of caution in order to minimize the risks of being contracted. Contraction through droplets or personal contact requires high levels of treatment and keenness. Today, doctors are well prepared and equipped to treat these patients with reduced risks for themselves. The nurses should wear protective devices (gowns, goggles, and appropriate masks) while working with the infectious case. Moreover, the protective devices are also recommended for any person who handles the body fluids of an ill person or objects contaminated by the same. It is also very necessary to observe the hand hygiene by each and every one so as to prevent the transmission.
One of the trainings that the doctors undergo with regard to Ebola covers the barrier-isolation of the patient. Every equipment, waste, and surfaces that get into contact with the ill person are to be disinfected. In some cases, special kits are provided for the family members to help manage the Ebola virus back at their home successfully after being equipped with the necessary knowledge (Frieden, Damon, Bell, Kenyon, & Nichol,2014). According to the recommendations by World Health Organization (WHO), disinfection can be done with the alcohol-based solvents, bleaching agents, and water boiled for 45 minutes. The ill person should be avoided by all means. In addition, hand washing with soap should be a routine of all the healthcare attendants (The Joint Commission, n. d.). Bushmeat may also contain the virus; therefore, it should be handled with protective attire and cooked well for human consumption (Frieden et al., 2014).
In the case of deaths of people contracted with Ebola, direct contact with the corpse needs to be avoided, meaning that traditional rituals, which expose healthy relatives to the virus, should not be practiced. The WHO and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still insist on that the travel bans are not a sound mean of controlling the Ebola virus. The organizations advocate precious monitoring of the Ebola symptoms and diagnostic testing in the high-risk areas. Quarantine and contact tracing have also proved to be the best options in the cases where the disease is already spreading. It has to be noted that currently, there is no approved cure but only recommendations on the management of the disease by treating some of its symptoms. Painkillers like ibuprofen and aspirin should not be used as they can trigger bleeding. Intensive care whereby the bacterial infections are treated and the blood volume maintained has also proved successful (Fowler et al., 2014).
In conclusion, when Ebola was first reported, the news were received with a lot of fear by both the doctors and general public, especially the fact of the limited time it takes the disease to kill a human. Most individuals could not even imagine an attempt of taking care of the Ebola patients. The existing literature and the knowledge I have gained from dealing with the patient wrongly diagnosed with Ebola have made me know that with proper precautions, one can prevent him/ herself from contacting the virus. The precaution taken by nurses and medical professionals has made the rate, at which the virus spreads to the healthcare attendants, reduce. Therefore, the fact that Ebola can be managed just like any other infection has given rise to the better care of victims and increased survival rates.