As nurses we have a responsibility

  1. I woke yesterday to National Public Radio (by the way a good sorce for intelligent sane information on what is happening) The discussion floated past me, in my stupor. Suddenly I heard that an anthrax letter had been receive in Reno. My ears perked up.

    2 hours later I arrived at work in Reno, close to where this had happened. We had called Code Triage. The switchboard for the hospital was overflowing. The ER was overrun. We were concerned this panic would cause those with respitory and cardiac problems to have MI, etc., and cause the hospitals to be over filled.

    I've been appalled that only once, with no emphasis, did I hear the media say, "Wash your hands." As nurses we need to teach people how to protect themselves.

    Many people open their mail by tearing off the end of the envelope and blow into the envelope to open it, or snap the envelope, or shake and/or wave about the contents after they are removed, sending any potential microbes airborne. Anthrax is most dangerous if inhaled.

    I heard the media say that cutanious anthrax if left untreated has a 20% mortality. I know from the way it was said that is all anyone heard. Let's try to say it better and more accurately. "There is very effective treatment available. Cutanious anthrax is the most common way to contract it. Even untreated this form has an 80% survival rate. It does not have to go untreated. Hand washing can protect us from getting cutanious anthrax"

    We can teach people that maintaing, health, healthful eating, and living habits can lessen their predisposition to disease and improve their chances if they do contract something. We can teach about virlence and about the deseases in question, the real chances of getting it, and that there is treatment.

    At our Hospital last nignt everyone was demanding Cipro. We can teach why this is not a good idea.

    People panic because they feel they have lost control. We can give that control back. If you don't know how to protect yourself learn, because others will look to you, the health expert. We need to be the voice of calm that leads people to safety. It is very scary, but so aren't our jobs. Everyday we help people through very scary surgeries, trauma, and illness. This is not the time to panic ourselves. Only calm reason can accomplish anything. Someone has to lead. It might as well be nurses.
    Last edit by Agnus on Oct 13, '01
  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   ICUBecky
    this is the one thing that really scares the crap out of me with this anthrax thing. ppl are demanding and stockpiling cipro, even when the ARE NOT diagnosed with it or never will get it. now, we only have so much cipro (for 2 million ppl or so---is what i have heard). so when that runs out, the ppl diagnosed with anthrax are screwed...think about it everyone...
  4. by   Agnus
    We have confirmed it was anthrax. It's on its way to the CDC to for genetic testing which will tell us if it is a vaccine or the disease. It is suggested to place in a plastic bag any suspicious mail. I pick my mail up and usually screen it for junk at the P. O. I'm putting a couple of large ziplock bags in the car for picking up mail.

    ICU Becky,
    Remember to teach: the problem with indiscriminate prophlactic antbiotics is that we create resistant strains.
  5. by   WashYaHands
    Excellent thread, Agnes..thanks!

    I've also read that an increasing number of people are purchasing gas masks. Gas masks can be very dangerous if not put on properly. They can be fatal, especially if they fall into the hands of a curious child.

    This is another area where teaching may save lives.

  6. by   semstr
    Yes, that's right, the gasmasks and the ab are dangerous in the wrong hands!
    Besides you're going to wear a gasmask going out shopping?
    When you really need it, you won't notice it anymore. I am sure of that!
    In 1986 as Tsernobyl exploded(o no, sorry it was just a small accident, hahahaha. So small we still get the kids, now teenagers with all kinds of strange leucemias and tumors to Austria to be treated here) in the USSR, we had nice little taste of nuclear clouds!

    Take care, Renee
  7. by   Agnus
    [QUOTE]Originally posted by semstr
    [B] Yes, that's right, the gasmasks and the ab are dangerous in the wrong hands!

    Need a little clarification here. What is (are) ab?
  8. by   Huganurse
    I use ab for antibiotics.
  9. by   Mijourney
    Hi. I agree with semstr. It seems to me that gasmasks may be a good idea if you know the precise time when things will go awry. But, is it wise to walk around or sleep in a gas mask? I'll admit I'm ignorant on bioterrism right now. I would guess that the greatess fear over bioterrorism is that it can be carried out in a covert manner.
  10. by   semstr
    Hi yes, ab= antibiotics