Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Patient confidentiality

Patient X in Dallas went to a hospital on the 27'th with a fever and was sent home. He's back, with ebola. If I understand ebola correctly, he was contagious on the 27'th. I gather the authorities are trying to trace his contacts, but apparently the public isn't allowed to help. Remember the Boston bomber search, with the police wanting everybody behind doors to avoid danger? Eyes on the street was what spotted him, not door-to-door police.

I wonder how long it will be before parts of patient confidentiality get waived. We paid a pretty high price for not being more aggressive with quarantine (and closing the bathhouses) with AIDS. It wouldn't have solved the problem then, but it would have made it smaller.

I think the authorities are going to need help. At some point we're going to have to ditch confidentiality in favor of public health for some diseases--this would be a good time before things really get started.

How closely does the appearance of the virus correlate with fever? When exactly do you start to become contagious?

They can quarantine the family in the hospital and monitor them through all the stages of the disease. Maybe that's why the CDC team flew out there.

We talked about this at the table this evening, and it occurred to us that he might have picked it up riding in a taxi. Think sweaty seats--very sweaty seats.

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