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National Survey of Nurses Shows Heightened Ebola Concerns

A majority of nurses say hospitals haven't provided sufficient education on Ebola, according to the largest U.S. association of registered nurses.
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Three out of four nurses say their hospital hasn't provided sufficient education for them on Ebola, according to a survey by the largest professional association of registered nurses in the United States.

National Nurses United has been conducting an online survey of health care workers across the U.S. as the Ebola outbreak has widened globally. After a Texas nurse who cared for the first patient diagnosed with the Ebola in the U.S. tested positive for the virus Sunday, the group released its latest survey findings.

Out of more than 1,900 nurses in 46 states and Washington D.C. who responded, 76 percent said their hospital still hadn't communicated to them an official policy on admitting potential patients with Ebola. And a whopping 85 percent said their hospital hadn't provided educational training sessions on Ebola in which nurses could interact and ask questions.

Dr. Anthony Fauci with the National Institutes of Health reiterated Monday to MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell the need for adequate training.

"Something happened, certainly innocently and inadvertently, that unfortunately led to the infection of this very brave health care worker," he said. "When we put our health care workers in a risky situation ... we better make sure that they're well-trained."

The survey also found that 37 percent of nurses felt their hospital had insufficient supplies for containing the deadly virus, including face shields and goggles or fluid-resistant gowns.

The online survey has been filled out primarily by National Nurses United members, Charles Idelson, communications director for the group, said, but is open to any nurse in the U.S. A nurse can only fill out the survey once.

"A high percentage of them are members of our national organization, which is 185,000 members, but many of them are not," he said.

Duncan, a Liberian national, initially came to Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas on Sept. 25 with a fever of 103 degrees and abdominal pain. For reasons not entirely clear, staff sent him home. Three days later, he returned to the hospital in an ambulance after his nephew called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expressing concern. Duncan died last Wednesday.

The CDC said Sunday evening that the second case of Ebola — the first case of person-to-person transmission to have happened on U.S. soil — was the result of a "breach of protocol" in treating Duncan when he returned to Texas Presbyterian a second time. But Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director, said the unidentified nurse could not "identify the specific breach" that resulted in the disease spreading to her.

National Nurses United has urged hospitals to waste no time in upgrading their emergency readiness for Ebola "based on steady reports from nurses at multiple hospitals who are alarmed at the inadequate preparation they see at their hospitals. The time to act is long overdue," National Nurses United Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro said in a statement.

Appropriate measures would include ongoing training sessions for nurses and demonstrations of how to correctly put on and take off protective equipment, a registered nurse at the association told NBC News a week and a half ago, weeks after the group had begun collecting data on hospitals' Ebola readiness.

"The number that's probably the most appalling to us is the question about has your facility done training programs," Idelson said. "That's the one that may be the most critical here, and the fact that 85 percent of the nurses still say no, that may be the most alarming number in the whole survey."

Other nurses' groups have downplayed the survey percentage numbers, pointing out that infection prevention — for Ebola or any other contagious disease — is standard education in nursing.