The only confirmed Ebola cases on U.S. soil so far have been two American aid workers flown from Liberia for treatment at Emory University Hospital. They were discharged this week after recovering from the disease that has killed more than 1,400 people in Africa.
While calling the extra steps “understandable given the horrific mortality of this disease,” Dr. Michael Klompas of Harvard Medical School and lead author of the paper in Annals of Internal Medicine, said they are unnecessary and could backfire.
For instance, if nurses and doctors wear unfamiliar gear such as head-to-toe hazmat suits, “there is absolutely a risk of making mistakes and contaminating yourself” with a patient’s bodily fluids, said Dr. David Kuhar of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Going overboard could also hurt patients, Klompas said. If workers need to don hazmat suits before entering a patient’s room, they will likely examine, test and care for patients less frequently.
Hospitals in 29 states have contacted CDC about 68 suspected cases: 66 were not Ebola and two test results are pending.