Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Purposeful Education

Now that the Ebola patient who was being treated in the Dallas hospital has died, it's time to get moving, without hysteria, with purposeful calm, on two fronts.

First, the media, particularly the virtual and broadcast media, need to tamp down the sensational hysteria and take that same amount of airtime to educate the American public about the value of flu shots, vaccinations for their children, and any other measures they feel might keep Americans safe.  I say this because we are about to deploy troops to Africa and it is likely that some of them -- or Americans already working in Western Africa -- might fall ill and need to be treated in our communities.

Second, it's not just hospitals who need to sit up and pay attention, and rehearse their response -- although from the comments of associations of nurses, it's clear that institutional strategies have not been shared, nor have the protective measures that will be put in place for personnel.  And the training and rehearsals must also include ambulance drivers and EMTs as well as a range of other medical support personnel. 

Meanwhile, vaccine trials proceed.   Trying out vaccines on patients already infected is not the same as a full on Stage 2 double bind trial that carries its own risks. In our rush to find a way to contain the virus, and to find a vaccine that works, we'll find a range of ethical questions presenting themselves.

Let's get started.

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