Medical Journal To Governors: You're Wrong About Ebola Quarantine

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the myCME.com take:

The typically objective New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) has denounced the decision of some U.S. states to quarantine health care workers who treated Ebola patients in West Africa. This order, the editors wrote in an editorial, is unfair and unwise. Their statement follows similar sentiments from nurse Kaci Hickox, who spent last weekend in an isolation tent at Newark University Hospital upon her return from Sierra Leone despite the fact that she was not displaying any symptoms.

According to the journal editors, medical workers are desperately needed to help resolve the crisis overseas—and this new mandate may discourage them from offering their assistance. Many experts and workers feel frustrated by the guidelines and how they may conflict with what is known about the disease’s transmission. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The NEJM editorial argues that health care workers are capable of self-monitoring by measuring their own temperatures daily. As such, they would be able to detect the onset of Ebola right away—and this would not pose any public health threat because the virus is not contagious until symptoms are present.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines call for health care workers to be quarantined only if they’ve had a known direct exposure to the virus, such as through a needle stick or breach in protective suit protocols. This is in conflict with the new state-issued quarantines.
  • The guidelines may be causing more harm than good, at least according to some experts and the NEJM. For example, some individuals believe it may inconvenience health care volunteers when there is no real risk, or it may instill unwarranted fear in the general public.

Medical Journal To Governors: You're Wrong About Ebola Quarantine
Medical Journal To Governors: You're Wrong About Ebola Quarantine
The usually staid New England Journal of Medicine is blasting the decision of some states to quarantine returning Ebola health care workers. In an editorial the NEJM describes the quarantines as unfair, unwise and "more destructive than beneficial." In their words, "We think the governors have it wrong."
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