Online Program

Ebola preparedness: Using the Omaha System for dissemination of best practices across sectors

Monday, November 2, 2015

Karen A. Monsen, PhD, FAAN, RN, School of Nursing, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Laura Reed, RN, MSN, MBA, Fairview, University of Minnesota Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN
Deb Cathcart, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, Fairview Health Services, Minneapolis, MN
Background/ Issue

Public health nurses are key healthcare professionals in the prevention of disease outbreaks. A primary concern with an Ebola infection is the potential for human to human spread prior to a correct diagnosis.  In a situation such as the Ebola threat, it is important to manage the community preparedness, the clinical response, and the public response to reduce possible panic and bias towards South African communities. 


State and local health departments and hospitals faced new challenges related to establishing protocol, process, equipment and staffing to respond in a timely manner to concerns being raised by individual organizations. Determination was made to contain resources, knowledge, and impact to four designated hospitals, while disseminating preparedness information throughout the public health system. To leverage clinical data systems for Ebola preparedness clinical decision support and documentation, standardized intervention protocols were developed that could be communicated using standardized terminologies such as the Omaha System. Such a protocol for Ebola preparedness was developed to guide practice when an individual presents to a public health department, urgent care site, clinic, or emergency department.

 Lessons Learned

It is feasible to guide and document Ebola preparedness protocols for multiple settings using the Omaha System. This Omaha System Ebola preparedness guideline is publicly available on-line at,


Having standardized protocols available in structured form will enable clinical decision support and documentation of Ebola preparedness activities for robust data collection and evaluation. This process serves as a model for other public health-health system collaborative preparedness efforts.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Administration, management, leadership
Communication and informatics
Diversity and culture
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related nursing

Learning Objectives:
Describe community preparedness for infectious disease prevention and control. List critical interventions to reduce possible panic and bias towards South African communities. Explain Omaha System encoded guidelines for disseminating best practices at individual, community, and system levels.

Keyword(s): Emergency Preparedness, Evidence-Based Practice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the expert in Omaha System guidelines who worked with the Ebola Preparedness content experts on this project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.