Local hospitals requiring patients to answer Ebola questionnaire - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Local hospitals requiring patients to answer Ebola questionnaire

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Some local hospitals are now taking steps to screen for Ebola.

Norton hospital recently started asking patients to fill out a questionnaire. It is one of several steps now taken before check-in, even though the Centers for Disease Control has not identified any local Ebola cases.

"What we did is create in our electronic medical record a screening process for the staff that first encounters the patients," said Doctor Paul Schulz, Infectious Disease Specialist with Norton Healthcare.

Dr. Schulz says the hospital is not questioning authority, just patients.

"It's very simple questions, asking those patients if they have traveled to these areas or been in contact with an ill person from these areas," said Dr. Schulz.

Going forward, anyone seen by the hospital will answer a few questions.

Dr. Schulz explained, "basically if you answer yes to the questionnaire that means that we need to apply another layer of scrutiny to that patient."

Surprisingly, a number of patients have answered "yes" but Doctor Schulz says there's no need to worry. "So far all of them have been false alarms," he said.

The concern and recent line of questioning started when two healthcare workers became ill after caring for Texas Ebola patient Thomas Duncan.  Duncan eventually died from the virus.

"We wanted to be sure, to the best of our ability, that if a patient came to one of our facilities, like Mr. Duncan went to the hospital in Dallas, that we would, by matter of routine, be able to identify that patient," said Dr. Schulz.

It's the same scenario at University Hospital. Doctors say it's flu season anyway, so certain precautions are already in place.

"What is different is that we're sspecificallyasking about travel to West Africa," Doctor Diane Harper said.

Harper chairs the Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine for the University of Louisville medical school and she says more questions like "Do you have a fever?" are now also being asked at registration.

The additional procedures also remind patients to protect themselves and others, using the right protective equipment, washing their hands and practicing proper decontamination.

Most local healthcare experts say it's unlikely we will see any local cases but understand the concern.

"It is unlikely that someone would get here and not be appropriately screened," said Ruth Carrico, U of L Physicians Infection Control Expert.

Dr. Schulz says that's why the extra line of protection or questioning is in place. "We would rather err on the side of caution and false alarms rather than have a patient get into one of our facilities."

Norton will continue the questionnaires until the CDC gives the all clear.

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