October 16th, 2014
11:39 PM ET

Whistleblower nurse: I would do anything and everything not to be a patient there

Nurse Briana Aguirre works at Texas Presbyterian Hospital, though her future there is now uncertain. That's because she is speaking out about what she says she's seen and experienced during the treatment of Ebola patient Thomas Duncan and others. She speaks to Anderson with her attorney Bob Kelly. Ms. Aguirre describes chaos, a lack of training, confusing protocols from the CDC and unnecessary risks that she says the nurses were exposed to on the job.

Briana describes how she wore Ebola protective gear that covered most of her body in two or three layers of plastic, but left her neck exposed.

She went on to claim that two weeks into the hospital's Ebola crisis, nurses like her did not have the same level of protection as sanitation workers at the hospital.

Briana says she is tired of the hospital 'blaming the nurses for being sick.'

Briana Aguirre and her attorney raised concerns about whether she would still have her job after the interview. AC360 received a statement form Texas Health Presbyterian saying:

"Her employment status is the same today as it was yesterday. We would welcome the opportunity to learn more about her observations when she is willing."

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Filed under: Ebola
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. bbintexas

    A couple of days ago, in one of CNN's news cast of a nurse suited up at Texas Presbyterian Hospital, I think I could see an exposed neck. In this clip, it showed a nurse with full gear including headgear with the hose attached. At first it looked like she (or he) was fully covered but when she turned to her right to reach behind her, for a few seconds, I thought I could see an exposed neck. It was in the same area that the nurse was telling Anderson about.

    October 20, 2014 at 9:00 pm |
  2. dwbrnjd

    So she's worried that she was exposed and put at risk because of faulty protective equipment, yet her attorney doesn't seem to have any problem sitting next to her without protective gear. Kind of makes you wonder.

    October 20, 2014 at 6:06 pm |
  3. ninersblogger

    Anyone else have the same impression of this woman as I do? She is not that bright.

    October 20, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
    • abigaylenorman

      I've worked in the hospital industry for years. You don't have to be that bright to be a nurse, or a doctor for that matter.

      October 21, 2014 at 10:02 am |
  4. hossandfeffer

    Having you neck exposed shouldn't matter as long as there are no cuts on the neck and the area is disinfected after patient contact. The real issue is protecting your mucous membranes especially orally and nasally – that is how ebola is being spread. Breathing in of aerosolized virus requires personal ventilation systems.

    October 19, 2014 at 10:27 am |
    • noneyogetit0011232

      I hear your point but technically when Ebola virus is worked with in a lab you have to be wearing a full-body positive pressure differential suit. Now you can't exactly have a "portable BSL-4" lab for field work but full body suits and chemical showers are a hell of a lot better than what she is describing.

      IMPORTANT POINT: Hermetically sealed biosuits are serious money and with a likely shoestring budget in addition to the sequester I would be very concerned about whether anyone is in a position to berate the CDC for not buying equipment they could never afford. As an American I hate how quickly most other Americans are to blame the government for not doing 10 times as much work than the private sector could with 10 times less money.

      October 23, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
  5. misty1998

    It's shameful that you did not even contact an Infection Prevention and Control Practitioner to address some of what this woman claims. It needn't be from the Texas hospital, any Practitioner would do. She comes across as an uneducated, angry nurse who is not in it for the patient and resents that she may have to treat an infectious patient. It's very unfortunate that two nurses were exposed but it is not clear how this happened. Current recommendations remain Droplet/Contact precautions with increased personal protective equipment (PPE) for certain circumstances. Infection Prevention and Control places patients on various types of precautions and staff do not always follow the precautions. Any one of us can tell you that staff cut corners on a regular basis but when something like SARS, H1N1 and now Ebola presents itself and those same staff are required to wear PPE we have to re-educate them. This is something that should be engrained in every healthcare worker and not something we have to 'enforce'. One has to consider how Ebola is transmitted in order to understand this issue. Where is the professional responsibility of the Nurse here. All of this is counter productive and we should be looking for solutions and not laying blame on whomever is handy. Get off you soapbox and be productive.....why don't you go take an Infection Control Course Breana!!!

    October 17, 2014 at 10:13 pm |
  6. msheng1891

    Given what happened in the ebola front in the last week or so, I am concerned with the possibility of terrorists using ebola germ as their weapon to attack us. All they need to do is to get their hands on some patient's body fluid, and infect a few suicidal volunteers before they board on flights to major US cities. Can we detect and stop them, if we could not stop the Texas nurse coming to Ohio before her symptom showed up? I am in the Akron area, and we have seen schools and business closing, due to Nurse Amber's visit; the news about ebola in this country was one of the reasons that cause stock market uncertainty last week. What would happen, when the news of the "ebola human bomb" in New York, Chicago, and L.A. hit the news? Are we prepared for that scenario at all?

    October 17, 2014 at 6:48 pm |
  7. montee38

    I have to say when I came across this article I was wondering what this nurse how to say. This is just my opinion, but I feel Briana wants her 15 minutes of fame. If the working conditions were so poor, why not address with with your superior or make a complaint to HR. There are ways to handle hazardous work situations without contacting the media, or to take a chance to bad mouth your employer for a small shot at fame. Texas Presby is actually a great hosiptal. My sister in law had her twins there and my husband was treated there. Our experience with the hosiptal has been nothing but positive. As far as the Ebola patient, Mr. Duncan, I feel like the hosiptal did all they could do for him. There are only 4 hosiptals in the nation that deal with Infectious diseases of that magnitude. Its very unfortunate that Mr. Duncan died, but the nurses as well as the medical staff should take this as a learning experience and modify and implement new training materials so they can be better prepared next time.

    October 17, 2014 at 11:27 am |
    • sistrmoon

      She did contact her superiors. She said she spoke to charge nurses, house supervisors, CDC etc with her concerns. They didn't care and didn't change things.

      October 19, 2014 at 10:34 am |
      • noneyogetit0011232

        The CDC had their emergency preparedness budget cut in half since 2006. Please don't act like they made a conscious choice to NOT use decent equipment. Everything you are saying has the implicit assumption that money and resources are not a problem. I am not claiming to have the answers or know who to blame (the budget had to get approval from both parties). But don't act high and mighty when the real fighters are out there doing the best they can with what they have.

        But I do have to say if the nurse is using such a blanket statement as "my neck was not covered" she has immediately lost credibility. Yes, Bio-safety Level 4 labs (the ones that work with ebola, smallpox, etc.) require full-body pressure suits but this is not a lab it is fieldwork in a hospital with exposed and/or infected patients and things are far more complicated.

        October 23, 2014 at 4:11 pm |
  8. jjett

    Nurses probably feel like this: http://thehappyhospitalist.blogspot.com/2014/10/Ebola-CDC-Flowchart-Blames-Nurses.html

    October 17, 2014 at 8:36 am |
    • noneyogetit0011232

      The CDC is working on standing budget cuts... especially for their emergency preparedness. Did you ever consider the possibility that maybe they are working on a skeletal budget and can't do what they would like to if money were no object? It is very easy to claim what "should be" when you are not the one looking at limited resources that has to make it happen. Maybe they have enough money but you never considered the possibility that they don't... no one EVER considers that because that would make the issue everyone's problem without "someone else" to blame. As an American I am sick and tired of everyone always blaming the government while simultaneously demanding it keep on providing better services to a growing population on a shrinking budget.

      October 23, 2014 at 4:21 pm |
  9. NurseInMontana

    This hospital, and others, clearly must undergo a radical shift in thinking if we are to prepare properly for this or any other coming pandemic. Stop blaming individuals who operate heroically within flawed systems for poor outcomes. Be accountable so that you may learn and repair the system, thereby protecting public health AND your greatest asset – your nurses and staff.

    October 17, 2014 at 2:16 am |
  10. jjett

    Briana is going to need an attorney for sure. She is a hero for standing up for nurses and their poor working conditions. This is long overdue!!!!

    This hospital directed blame to the electronic health-record system initially by stating a procedural flaw in the electronic health-record system prevented a doctor from seeing a nurse's note that Thomas Duncan had been in Liberia. When that died down then the blame went to the nurses – lack of following protocol. How many more scapegoats will they find? Its time this organization's leadership took responsibility!

    October 16, 2014 at 11:54 pm |
    • noneyogetit0011232

      The past 10 years the CDC has had their emergency preparedness budget cut in half...

      Explain to me how this is anyone's fault but the ones doing the cutting.

      October 23, 2014 at 4:00 pm |

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