Lesson Learned in Knowledge Management (EBOLA)


Ignorance = Death

Last year, I wrote about a lack of KM in the medical industry.https://cohenovate.com/2013/12/30/knowledge-management-and-healthcare/   It was a sad commentary then and it is even more frightening now.  Some of you may be aware that errors in healthcare account for a significant number of deaths in America.

In 2010, the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services said that bad hospital care contributed to the deaths of 180,000 patients in Medicare alone in a given year.

Now comes a study in the current issue of the Journal of Patient Safety that says the numbers may be much higher — between210,000 and 440,000 patients each year who go to the hospital for care suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death, the study says.

That would make medical errors the third-leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease, which is the first, and cancer, which is second. (http://www.propublica.org/article/how-many-die-from-medical-mistakes-in-us-hospitals)


Lack of Awareness

Texas nurses said that there were no protocols. (http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/15/health/texas-ebola-nurses-union-claims/index.html?hpt=hp_t1)  Maybe they had the guidelines on their Sharepoint instance?  Maybe they had their process on Jive? Maybe they had their instructions on Yammer or Podio or…  

What they don’t have is effective Knowledge Management.  This is the truth.

Let me state this for the record, as I have mentioned this in past postings.  Knowledge Management is about getting, presenting, raising awareness, sharing, identifying, bringing to light.. the RIGHT INFORMATION AT THE RIGHT TIME.

If you think for a moment that I am using this tragic situation to get the message out on Knowledge Management, I will tell you in fact that I am.   We can go through the history of knowledge management failures and find the critical element that is missing and that is the human element.  These failures result in death.

Doctors and nurses need access to real time information that INFORMS them of what they need to do and what precautions they have to take.   In fact, think about this folks.. WE CARE MORE ABOUT CYBER SECURITY THAN PEOPLE.

Everything when it comes to medicine seems to be approached from an academic perspective.  If you look at the agencies that do care about healthcare they are not considered or looked at in the same way as cyber communities.   For example, are hospitals going to the WHO or USAID for daily updates and coordination?   I highly doubt it and I think the results of the situation from a global perspective is telling.  The CDC doesn’t want us to worry because they don’t want a panicdemic.  (yep, I made that up).  We are facing an enemy that doesn’t care about boundaries or what side you are on.  We are facing an enemy that doesn’t look at right or wrong.  It just has intent of killing the system.  That is it.  We can’t afford to be ignorant.  We can’t afford to make mistakes that are easily correctable.

What is needed?

  • A quick turn incidence response and disaster response operational check up for every medical organization in the US.
  • A safety and contagion knowledge plan that addresses known and new issues and concerns through every turnover, handoff, meeting or organization interaction.
  • A strategic outreach and communication plan for healthcare providers, practitioners and patients.
  • A KM plan that seeks to elevate and prioritize content for communication in the organization.
  • An “as you learn.. share” plan.  (If you know information that will save a life, share it)
  • Researchers that have worked on attacking ebola need to share their failures and their success.  (YES FAIL) We need to pick up where others left off and share information, not hold information so that we can be the trophy winner.
  • We need leaders in the KM space to step up and share best practices, lessons learned and how to’s for knowledge transfer and elicitation.


Ebola virus can be used for terrorism.. Think about that for a moment. 

Links to Ebola sites

European Links

Links to Ebola sites


DG SANCO:    http://ec.europa.eu/health/ebola/index_en.htm

DG ECHO:       http://ec.europa.eu/echo/en/news/ebola-outbreak-west-africa-additional-funding-brings-eu-aid-%E2%82%AC39-million

European External Action Services (EEAS)



HQ:                  https://extranet.who.int/ebola/

EURO:             http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/emergencies/pages/ebola-outbreak-in-west-africa


 http://ecdc.europa.eu/en/healthtopics/ebola_marburg_fevers/pages/index.a http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/emergencies/pages/ebola-outbreak-in-west-africa

Member States


Ministry of Health


Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Czech Republic

Ministry of Health  http://www.mzcr.cz/dokumenty/upozorneni-pro-zahranicni-studenty-po-prijezdu-z-oblasti-vyskytu-horecky-zpusobe_9579_1.html  http://www.mzcr.cz/Verejne/dokumenty/ebola-v-africe-aktualizace-ministerstva-zdravotnictvi-ke-dni-19zari-2014_9602_5.html

Ministry of Industry and Trade  http://www.mpo.cz/dokument153462.html

Ministry of Foreign Affairs  http://www.mzv.cz/jnp/cz/cestujeme/ebola/obecne_informace.html



Ministry of Social Affairs and Health



All information and guidance for health professionals  http://www.sante.gouv.fr/maladie-a-virus-ebola-informations-a-destination-des-professionnels-de-sante.html

National Surveillance Case Definitions for Ebola  http://www.sante.gouv.fr/maladie-a-virus-ebola-informations-a-destination-des-professionnels-de-sante.html


Public Health Management of Cases and Contacts of Human Illness Associated with Ebola Virus Disease  http://www.hcsp.fr/explore.cgi/avisrapportsdomaine?clefr=414  http://www.sante.gouv.fr/maladie-a-virus-ebola-informations-a-destination-des-professionnels-de-sante.html

List of hospitals allowed to take care of Ebola patients  http://www.sante.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/2014_08_25_ListingESR_MAJ_modifIDFertA_DEF.pdf

Guidance on transportation of Ebola patient from abroad to France  http://www.sante.gouv.fr/fichiers/bo/2012/12-06/ste_20120006_0100_0052.pdf


KEEL:               Webpage on Ebola outbreak

Bulletin for travelers





Ministry of Health


Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Robert Koch Institute



Bernhard-Nocht-Institute – Hamburg



Ministry of Human Capacities  http://www.kormany.hu/en/ministry-of-human-resources (English)

 http://www.kormany.hu/hu/emberi-eroforrasok-miniszteriuma/egeszsegugyert-felelos-allamtitkarsag (Hungarian)  National Public Health and Chief Medical Office

https://www.antsz.hu/  Guide for leadership of higher education

https://www.antsz.hu/portal/hir1/20140826-ebola-felsooktatasi-hallgatok.html?transactionid=-6254197871553193403  Guide for travellers



Ministry of Health of Lithuania (web banner on the top of the page)  http://www.sam.lt

Centre of Communicable Disease and AIDS under the Ministry of Health  http://www.ulac.lt/lt/ebola-hemoragine-karstlige

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania  http://urm.lt/default/lt/naujienos/del-ebolos-viruso-protrukio-urm-grieztina-kelioniu-rekomendacijas-i-vakaru-afrikos-valstybes-1


Ministry of Health



Dutch Government


National Institute for Public Health and the Environment – in Dutch


National Institute for Public Health and the Environment – in English



National Institute of Public Health


Slovak Republic

Public Health Authority

Information about Ebola for travellers (translated ECDC leaflet) – in Slovak  http://www.uvzsr.sk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2378:virusove-ochorenie-ebola-informacie-pre-cestovateov&catid=68:epidemiolog

Information about the measurements taken by the Public Health Authority of SR – in Slovak  http://www.uvzsr.sk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2368:opatrenia-uradu-verejneho-zdravotnictva-sr-tykajuce-sa-virusoveho-ochoreni

Leaflet on Ebola for citizens – in Slovak  http://www.uvzsr.sk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2383:hemoragicka-horuka-ebola&catid=68:epidemiologia&Itemid=76

Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs

Travel advice for Slovak citizens – in Slovak http://www.foreign.gov.sk/servlet/content?MT=/App/WCM/main.nsf/vw_ByID/ID_DD6F67735A1B6F80C12576350033486B_SK&OpenDocument=Y&LANG

Information on financial humanitarian aid of the Slovak Republic – in English http://www.foreign.gov.sk/servlet/content?MT=/App/WCM/main.nsf/vw_ByID/ministry&NCH=Y&OpenDocument=Y&LANG=EN&TG=BlankMaster&URL=/


National institute of public health


Ministry of Health



Ministry of health  http://www.msssi.gob.es/profesionales/saludPublica/ccayes/alertasActual/ebola/home.htm

Foreign Affairs



Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (“Socialstyrelsen”):  http://www.socialstyrelsen.se/nyheter/2014september/ebolakraverokadvaksamhetivarden

Fact sheet/leaflet:  http://www.socialstyrelsen.se/SiteCollectionDocuments/infoblad-ebola-2014-08-28.pdf

Public Health Agency of Sweden (“Folkhälsomyndigheten”):  http://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/amnesomraden/beredskap/utbrott/ebola-vastafrika-2014/

Foreign Ministry of Sweden:  http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/18334/a/245352


Federal Office of Public Health







United Kingdom


Articles in which International SOS has been quoted or referenced

  • “Ebola Sends Employers Wake-Up Call” – Human Resource Executive– 7 October
  • “These countries are tightening their borders over Ebola fears — against expert advice” – Washington Post– 2 October
  • “Companies Step Up Pressure on Ebola: We Need Action Now” – NBC News– 11 September
  • “Amid Ebola crisis, is something worse around corner?” – CNBC– 4 September
  • “First Briton With Ebola Virus Begins Treatment” – Sky News– 25 August
  • “WA miners in West Africa prepare workforce for escalation of Ebola virus” –  ABC News– 23 August
  • “Ebola, war or disaster: how and when global service groups decide to flee” – National Catholic Reporter– 21 August
  • “World confronting the largest Ebola outbreak since 1976” – China Daily– 18 August
  • “Multinationals in Africa keep a wary eye on Ebola” – Wall Street Journal, 6 August
  • “Ebola strains fragile W African economies” – Reuters, 6 August
  • “Ebola threatens West African economies” – Yahoo UK/AFP, 6 August
  • “Ebola virus: now the threat is real” – Punch Nigeria, 5 August
  • “International SOS has seen another rise in the number of requests for advice on Ebola in recent weeks” –Business Wire India, 4 August
  • “Evaluating risk: Do travellers need medical evacuation insurance” – NBC News, 2 August
  • “Ebola patient arrives in the US” – Today NBC, 2 August
  • “Americans mostly safe from Ebola, despite rapid spread” – Risk & Insurance, 1 August
  • “Employers should be prepared as Ebola outbreak grows” – Society for Human Resource Management, 1 August
  • “US$100m Ebola emergency response plan unveiled by WHO’s Margaret Chan” – South China Morning Post, 1 August
  • “WA miners issue ebola alerts” – The West Australian, 1 August
  • “Ebola: A Disease out of control?” – Al Jazeera, 31 July
  • “WHO, CDC see $100 million surge for Africa Ebola battle” – Bloomberg, 31 July
  • “Health experts say Ebola virus poses little risk to UAE” – The National UAE, 31 July
  • “Can West Africa’s deadliest Ebola outbreak be contained?” – Al Jazeera America, 29 July
  • “Ebola: Is the western world at risk?” – ReLocate Magazine, 28 July
  • “Ebola outbreak poses threat to African economies” – Financial Times, 25 July (subscription required)
  • International SOS’ Dr Robert Quigley discusses Ebola – Al Jazeera English TV channel, 23  July
  • “West Africa Ebola Outbreaks Spur Rising International SOS Inquiries” – Voice of America, 16 July
  • International SOS Medical Director Doug Quarry discusses Ebola in the Al Jazeera report, 28 March 2014
  • “Ebola Outbreak is West Africa” – Relocate Magazine, 26 March
  • “Guinea says has contained Ebola outbreak, death toll rises” – Reuters,  26 March