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ABC Chief Medical Expert: CDC Wrong, All US Hospitals Can't Treat Ebola Safely

ABC Chief Medical Expert: CDC Wrong, All US Hospitals Can't Treat Ebola Safely


AUSTIN, Texas — Dr. Richard Besser, the chief health and medical editor for ABC News, told WFAA-Dallas on Sunday that he found the second Texas Ebola case “very concerning.” As reported by Breitbart Texas, the latest patient diagnosed with Ebola is a female nurse at the Texas Presbyterian Hospital who treated Thomas Eric Duncan before he died from the disease. Besser, having recently returned to the United States after visiting Ebola-stricken areas of Liberia, expressed sharp disagreement with the protocols being followed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dissatisfied with their admission that they needed to adopt enhanced protocols in a press conference Sunday.

Besser told WFAA that he had been anticipating the news of a second Ebola case. “I don’t find it surprising, but I find it very concerning,” he said, continuing that it was necessary for health authorities to cast “a very wide net” to search for anyone who may have had even the most incidental contact with either Duncan or the nurse. The difficulty in containing the spread of the disease, according to Besser, is that it takes special training and experience to follow the isolation protocols and use the protective gear properly. 


“The idea that this could be done by any American hospital that has an isolation room and can be done safely, I was skeptical about that,” said Besser, in a clear departure from recent statements by the CDC that any American hospital can safely care for Ebola patients. Besser mentioned the highly specialized biocontainment equipment and advanced training available at at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where Fort Worth doctor Kent Brantly was successfully treated for Ebola exposure, and the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, where an NBC photographer is currently getting treatment.

Besser agreed with Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC head, who had said that the new Ebola case was caused by a “breach in protocol.” “You cannot get sick without a breach in protocol, [however] you can’t implement that protocol without training and practice. It’s very difficult to take off the protective gear in such a manner that you don’t potentially contaminate yourself.” Besser cited this new Dallas case and the case of a nurse in Spain who had contracted Ebola from a patient, and the fact that health care workers at the Emory and Nebraska facilities had not gotten sick, as illustrative of the vital difference that the training can make.

Besser did agree that all American hospitals needed to be prepared to receive patients with Ebola, but that once diagnosed, they should be moved to facilities that were fully equipped and prepared to handle the contagious disease. He also praised how quickly this new case had been managed, with only ninety minutes passing from when the nurse developed a fever and her getting into isolation, with only one person coming into contact with her during that time.

Besser affirmed his position on the issue on his Twitter account Sunday, tweeting, “Patients w/ #Ebola should be cared for in facilities where health care workers have been specially trained. It’s too easy to make a mistake.”

[Photo: Mike Coppola / Getty Images for Verizon]

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter at @rumpfshaker.

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