Please understand that I am not happy about the existence of Ebola, but it has brought more awareness and debate to several important health care issues in the U.S. Here are my top five:
- Ebola has brought attention to workflow and EHR. The initial reports that critical information did not flow from the registration/triage desk in the care of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian traveler, brought lots of finger-pointing. But it has also forced every hospital in the U.S. to examine its work flow. Shame on them if they haven’t.
- Ebola has highlighted the need for total transparency in discussions. Bringing national attention and leagues of reporters to every rumor and statement, picking apart every word, makes it critical that anyone speak the truth as it is known. CDC take note. There are tons of conspiracy theorists and critics who will examine every word. Making “definitive” statements, and then walking them back is embarrassing enough.
- Infectious disease precautions are being refreshed in every office, clinic, hospital and emergency room. We all may get a little lax, but hopefully, we’re all refreshed on the merits of handwashing. Having the threat of a disease that is greater than 50 percent fatal sure makes you think about basic infection control.
- The concept of individual freedom versus societal need is being highlighted as never before. The necessary impositions on individual freedom are being discussed in a public health sense, but it gets people arguing about how far it may be necessary to impose on individuals when public health is the issue. The family of Thomas Duncan was forced into quarantine by sheriff deputies and now states have imposed mandatory quarantine on travelers coming from stricken areas who had contact with Ebola patients.
- The dynamic between federal and states’ rights is being brought into the news. Who can impose these quarantines, and does the federal government have the right to dictate to a state whether they can do this? It’s a subject now in the national limelight.
Did I miss any important health-related conversations from this case? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.