Medical errors can have serious consequences for patients, including serious injury and death. When it comes to fighting the potential threat of Ebola in the United States, though, medical error could have a much more wide-spread negative impact, potentially affecting large segments of the population, if the virus spreads unchecked.
Though some public health officials say the risk of Ebola spreading to significant numbers of Americans is small, others have raised more alarm. So far, several Americans have been confirmed to have contracted the virus. Healthcare workers returning from service in West Africa, of course, are most at risk of becoming sick. Because of this, the Centers for Disease Control will reportedly be announcing new guidelines for the care of healthcare workers returning from treating Ebola patients in Africa.
The guidelines will reportedly give special emphasis to standards of care for quarantining those at risk for the virus. Quarantines are important, it is argued, because of the risk that the virus may go undetected before others have been exposed and it is too late.
Standards for care are important not only in preventing the spread of serious infections like Ebola, but in every form of health care. When a standard of care is established, healthcare providers who fail to abide by it can be held accountable for injuries and fatalities that result. Those who pursue medical malpractice litigation need to be able to point to a standard of care that was breached and the harm that it caused.
Standards of care are not always clear cut, though, and sometimes come into dispute in medical malpractice litigation. This is why it is important to work with an experienced attorney who knows how to build a strong case.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “CDC will soon issue new guidelines for Ebola healthcare workers,” October 27, 2014.