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Photos Show Hospitals Unprepared for Ebola

“We think we’re in the US and so we’re 100 percent prepared,” a health and safety auditor said. “We are sadly mistaken”

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    NEWSLETTERS

    10/17/2014: A health and safety auditor says some of the nation’s hospitals may not be prepared for Ebola. Nesita Kwan reports. (Published Friday, Oct. 17, 2014)

    On any given day in America’s acute care hospitals, about one in 25 patients contracts a healthcare-related infection, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control.

    Put another way, in 2011 alone well over 700,000 patients acquired an infection after going to the hospital.

    It’s the job of health and safety auditors – the secret shoppers of the hospital world – to inspect and document errors like leaving containers unsealed or not disposing of surgical gloves properly that may lead to some of these infections.

    One such inspector, whose identity will remain anonymous because of the nature of his job, told NBC 5 that some of the nation’s hospitals may not be prepared for Ebola.

    The inspector sent us these photos, taken at five hospitals in the U.S. (none of the hospitals represented in the photos is located in Texas) that show egregious errors.

    Among the images, are hair nets and pieces of body protection gloves just sitting out; surgical gloves that have fallen out of their containers, and in one image: work table gloves that are sitting next to a beverage.

    The photos were taken on hospital floors where infection controls were required and, in some cases, where patients were in isolation, the inspector said. Some of the images also depicted public areas where virtually anyone in the hospital would have access.

    “We think we’re in the US and so we’re 100 percent prepared,” he said. “We are sadly mistaken.”

    It’s just one man’s experience, but after two decades as a health safety inspector, he says he’s seen a long list of potentially dangerous gaps in hospital procedure. The lapses worried him before Ebola, but now he says those lapses are potentially life-threatening.

    “We cannot afford a baptism by fire,” he said. “That would mean because of a lapse in judgment, someone has been infected.”