U.S. Nurses Organization Charges: For-Profit Health Care Is Key Factor Underlying Incompetent Policy on Ebola
October 17, 2014 • 9:26AM

Jean Ross, President of National Nurses United, pinpointed the for-profit health system as the primary reason for the incompetent approach to dealing with Ebola in the United States. She was interviewed Wednesday on C-Span's Washington Journal.

Ross noted that profit is the bottom line, which determines how protocols will be implemented, and that this approach is what defines the inadequate procedures that nurses have to follow.

Ross pointed out that the nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas do not have a union, but sought out her organization after being charged with a breach of protocol after nurse Nina Pham was infected by caring for Thomas Duncan, despite the fact that protocols were not well-defined, and were being repeatedly changed. The nurses had actually asked for protocols. Ross supported the Dallas nurses as being very brave by coming forward as whistleblowers to publicize the internal workings of the hospital even though they did not have the protection of a union contract.

Ross also said that even if the CDC had had a correct protocol, there is no way to guarantee that these profit-driven hospitals will institute it, because the bottom line governs everything. Presby, as the Dallas hospital system is called, is a big, high-status health care system for the well-to-do. Its director gets paid $1.1 million/yr. But it also has a history of ineffectively treating low-profit ER cases. Last year, in the case of person who came to the ER spitting up blood, it missed the fact that he had tuberculosis. They sent him home with anti-antibiotics. He was correctly diagnosed two weeks later in Los Angeles, after exposing his family, and airplane travelers, to the disease.

Thomas Duncan showed up at Presby's ER just days after arriving from Liberia. He had a 103-degree fever and told the nurse he had just come from Liberia several days earlier. She briefed the ER doctor, and Duncan was sent home after being told to take Tylenol, thus missing any care for the crucial few days in which hospital can mean the difference between life and death. Tylenol and aspirin significantly worsen Ebola symptoms, because they contribute to bleeding. Ebola attacks the epithelial layers of the blood vessels, leading to hemorrhaging, and by attacking that same layer in the arteries, leads to a collapse of blood pressure, leading to the organ failure which leads to the death of victims who don't bleed out. Duncan was finally admitted two days later, when it was too late to save his life. The Tylenol and delay of hospital care contributed to his death.