The BMJ Today: Second UK Ebola patient identified, and how 3D printing could affect clinical practice

The BMJ has been tracking the developments of the Ebola virus outbreak throughout 2014, and it continues to be in the news as the year draws to a close.

Today, Anne Gulland’s story updates us on the UK nurse who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone and has been admitted to the high level isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

The patient—named in the media as Pauline Cafferkey, a public health nurse at Blantyre Health Centre in South Lanarkshire—is the second person to be treated for Ebola in the UK.

The story explains how Cafferkey, who has been writing a diary of her time in Sierra Leone for the Scotsman newspaper, was transferred on a military plane to the infectious diseases unit at the Royal Free in the early hours of 30 December. This is in adherence with the UK’s protocol for Ebola cases; the unit also treated the nurse Will Pooley, the UK’s only other Ebola patient.

England’s chief medical officer Sally Davies paid tribute to Cafferkey, saying she had been doing a “fantastic job saving lives.”

Elsewhere on today, an editorial from senior fellow Mahiben Maruthappu and national medical director Bruce Keogh addresses the question of how 3D printing might affect clinical practice. The piece draws on the example of Craig Gerrand, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust, who last year used computed tomography guided 3D printing to develop a titanium pelvis for a patient with chondrosarcoma.

The authors say 3D printing has the potential to “transform healthcare and clinical practice,” but acknowledge the “ethical, moral, and technical challenges” surrounding its usage. Expect to hear more about this in 2015 and beyond.

Happy New Year to all.

Gareth Iacobucci is news reporter for The BMJ.