Healthcare Credentialing | symplr Blog

Ebola: New Policies for Staff & Patient Safety

Written by Kesha Boykin-McLean | Nov 24, 2014 9:17:00 PM

While hundreds of U.S. hospitals are implementing Ebola training requirements and new patient screening protocols, some are going a step further. One facility recently announced that it will place any employee on paid leave who has “in the last month returned to the U.S. from Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal.” Other facilities are requesting its vendors refrain from sending representatives for 21 days if they traveled to the regions of West Africa within the last month.

With the increase in policies aimed toward protecting patients and employees from the risk of Ebola, new legal questions are raised. How much can employers infringe upon personal liberties in the interest of public safety?

Screening

Concern over Ebola has also impacted the screening of applicants and new hires at medical facilities nationwide. One Texas hospital has included questions about travel to Africa as part of its applicant screening. In addition to asking whether an applicant has the requisite years of experience in a particular field, hospitals want to know whether the applicant has recently traveled specifically to West Africa. Industries outside healthcare are also responding to the threat of Ebola by implementing conservative travel policies. A recent article in Forbes states that US companies with operations in West Africa including IBM and Shell Oil have implemented restrictions on non-essential travel to affected areas.

Many more hospitals will likely develop an array of policies and procedures to address the growing concern over the spread of Ebola. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has issued guidelines for preventing transmission of Ebola, however there is currently not a process for monitoring whether they are properly implemented.

In order for you and your organization to prepare for cases such as this, it is important to not only document the process, but to test the process frequently and randomly. Be sure to include the screening of employees and vendors in your processes to ensure complete compliance.