During public health emergencies of international concern such as the 2014 Ebola event, health care leaders need to educate clinicians on the front lines to make uncomfortable, but real triage decisions that focus on optimization of population health outcomes over individual care. Health care workers must consider their own protection first before direct contact with potentially contagious patients. In an era of globalization and emerging infectious disease, routine triage including evaluation of the standard vital signs must shift to include public health considerations with immediate consequences. A new “vital sign zero” should be taken at the time of initial patient evaluation to assess for risk and exposure to potentially contagious infectious diseases.
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