Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Balancing 'Hysteria And Suspicion': Doctors Face New Responsibilities In 'Bioterrorism Era'

Date:
December 27, 2004
Source:
Saint Louis University
Summary:
The emergence of bioterrorism as a threat is creating new responsibilities for the medical community and, for the first time in history, is putting physicians at the forefront of managing disaster, according to an article by Saint Louis University researchers in The Lancet.

ST. LOUIS -- The emergence of bioterrorism as a threat is creating new responsibilities for the medical community and, for the first time in history, is putting physicians at the forefront of managing disaster, according to an article by Saint Louis University researchers in The Lancet.

Related Articles


"Unlike other forms of terrorism, in which an acute exposure or traumatic injury is rapidly inflicted and quickly recognized, such as the 9/11 attacks, bioterrorism may involve an incubation period of days or even weeks," says Bruce W. Clements, MPH, associate director of the Institute for Bio-Security at Saint Louis University School of Public Health, and the lead author of the article.

"During these events, patients will turn to their most trusted adviser on health issues -- their doctors -- who will be expected to recognize sometimes rare conditions and take appropriate action. This means doctors will be the tip of the sword -- not the military, not the police, not the firefighters."

Clements presents his argument in an article published in the Dec. 18 issue of the medical journal, The Lancet.

Clements, and his co-author R. Gregory Evans, Ph.D., MPH, director of the Institute for Bio-Security at Saint Louis University, argue that this transfer of first-responder status puts greater responsibility on doctors, a responsibility that they currently are not prepared to shoulder.

"They will be in the driver's seat deciding how an outbreak will be managed so they must be trained for it," Clements says. "The challenge lies in finding the balance between suspicion and hysteria."

Clements says it is a delicate balance because most potential bioterrorism agents listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- such as those that cause smallpox, anthrax, botulism, plague, tularemia -- initially present in patients as flu-like symptoms.

"You don't want to walk into your doctor's office with flu-like symptoms and be told you might have Ebola," says Clements. "On the other hand, if you were exposed to something exotic, such as a biological agent, you would hope your physician has a high enough index of suspicion that he or she may take the extra moment to consider something unusual or atypical."

Clements and Evans urged medical schools to incorporate more information about bioterrorism into their curriculums to prepare doctors to meet the diagnostic challenge.

In addition, continuing medical education programs and community drills (such as a simulated smallpox scenario Evans and Clements developed for the CDC for use by state and local health departments) are critical in preparing doctors, they said. The exercises are designed to help physicians see how things may unfold in an atypical outbreak of smallpox and how different their work environment might be.

"In a bioterrorism incident, physicians will have to interface with the FBI and other government agencies that they've never had to speak with before," Clements says. "This type of communication doesn't come naturally. It's learned."

While physicians stand at the forefront of preparing for bioterrorism threats, Clements and Evans point out in their article that physicians have contributed to the creation and proliferation of these weapons -- both wittingly and unwittingly.

"Ethics must be integrated into all medical school courses, not just a few lectures in the first or second year of training," says Evans, a professor of environmental health.

###

The Institute for Bio-Security at Saint Louis University School of Public Health was established in 2000 with funding from the CDC. The Institute's original mission was preparing for bioterrorism or an emerging infectious disease. The mission was expanded in 2002, however, to include preparedness for all aspects of bio-security. Saint Louis University School of Public Health is one of only 36 fully accredited schools of public health in the United States and the nation's only School of Public Health sponsored by a Jesuit university.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Saint Louis University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Saint Louis University. "Balancing 'Hysteria And Suspicion': Doctors Face New Responsibilities In 'Bioterrorism Era'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 December 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041219161710.htm>.
Saint Louis University. (2004, December 27). Balancing 'Hysteria And Suspicion': Doctors Face New Responsibilities In 'Bioterrorism Era'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041219161710.htm
Saint Louis University. "Balancing 'Hysteria And Suspicion': Doctors Face New Responsibilities In 'Bioterrorism Era'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041219161710.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

AFP (Oct. 25, 2014) — An American nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for a Liberian patient in Texas has been declared free of the virus and will leave the hospital. Duration: 01:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) — IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) — A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins