by Michael Lowrey
Carolinas Medical Center put this out earlier today:
Late last evening, a patient arrived at Carolinas Medical Center Emergency Department after visiting a country known for high risk of infectious diseases. The hospital took all appropriate infection control measures to protect patients, staff, and visitors.
After consulting with the Centers for Disease Control and NC Department of Health and Human Services, it appears the risk for communicable disease is low.
No further testing is needed and the patient will be sent home. The Emergency Department at Carolinas Medical Center remains open and operating normally.
The aim of a press release of this sort should be to provide information so as to reduce speculation and fear. Instead, CMC’s message does the opposite, inviting speculation by providing exactly the wrong mix of information. “A country known for high risk of infectious diseases” simply leaves it for people to fill in the blank with whatever place holds the greatest fear for them of very highly infectious, very deadly disease. Mentioning the Centers for Disease Control just highlights those sorts of fears. And an incompetent PR job will cause the public to wonder how competent the hospital is in other areas, like identifying and controlling the spread of communicable diseases.
As the UPoR reports, the hospital eventually put out more detailed information. It seems that someone you had recently been to Africa came in to CMC last night with a fever. They eventually tested positive for malaria and their condition is not consistent with Ebola.