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Ebola, personal protective equipment, PPE standards



  1. Franklin, Sativa Michelle MSN


Purpose: The purpose of this article is to discuss the variance in requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE) used among healthcare workers to treat patients actively infected with the Ebola virus in West Africa.


Background: The Ebola virus is a highly contagious disease, which has killed 11020 people within the past year. In order to combat the disease and treat those with active infections, healthcare workers are required to use PPE. The guidelines for the PPE, in addition to the requirements of what should be worn, are varied between the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Description: A military unit was composed of sister services (Army, Navy, and Air Force) deployed to Monrovia, Liberia, to assist in mitigating the devastating effects of the Ebola virus. Each service member was taught PPE standards according to the WHO and were assigned to teach healthcare workers from around the world on how to manage the care of patients infected with the Ebola virus, while simultaneously taking diligent precautions to protect themselves against the deadly disease.


Outcome: More than 1500 healthcare workers were instructed on the latest PPE standards before they entered into the Ebola treatment units (ETUs) that were being constructed in Liberia. Cumulative death rates from the Ebola virus in Liberia increased from 2413 in October 2014 to 3686 by January 2015.


Conclusion/Implications for Practice: The rapid decline in Ebola mortality is multifactorial. The efforts of US military medical personnel likely were a contributing factor in this rapid decline as those international health workers were afforded the latest in PPE training with strict attention to detail. US military medical personnel, in concert with other governmental agencies, created a potent force multiplier in the efforts to curb this deadly infection. The educational initiative was essential to the slowdown in the spread of the Ebola virus in Liberia. Recommendations for a detailed review of the PPE standards and variances in practice from both WHO and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are necessary to standardize processes across international healthcare workers to expedite the care for future infectious disease outbreaks. A possible solution is to modify the PPE process to standardize with the WHO guidelines. Key stakeholders from all levels (staff nurse, clinical nurse specialist, nurse managers, infectious disease experts, etc) need to be heavily involved in this process.