Monday, March 16, 2015

Ebola- Personal and Public Health Lessons- NEJM Perspective

I have purposefully avoided writing much about Ebola as it is the topic du jour. After reading this perspective in the New England Journal of Medicine, I felt compelled to make some comments.

The author, Dr. Craig Spencer, both an Ebola doctor and patient, makes a few excellent points related to fear. This is why I found the article so interesting. Fear can make us sharp, and in measured doses raises awareness, increase our decision making capacity and heighten our focus. Fear can also be destabilizing and lead to irrationality, impulsiveness and harm. One need look no further than some of the stateside public health and quarantine responses to Ebola. Treating humanitarian physicians and nurses as pariahs upon return to the USA are the worst examples of fear driven responses.

To me, healthcare workers in the front line of Ebola and other dangerous outbreaks are driven by compassion, understand fear, and should be celebrated.

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