Texas Hospital Reaches Settlement With Nurse Infected With Ebola

Lawsuit could cost millions

Nurse Nina Pham has settled her lawsuit against Texas Health Resources (THR), owner of the hospital where she contracted Ebola while caring for the first person in the United States diagnosed with the deadly disease, according to an article in the Dallas Morning News. The deal was signed two years after Pham was declared free of Ebola, although she still has health problems likely related to the disease and to experimental treatments.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but a typical agreement could include future health care and possibly millions of dollars, the newspaper said.

Pham, a nurse in the intensive care unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, claimed in her lawsuit that THR did not properly train and protect its staff to care for Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who died in October 2014. She also claimed that THR violated her privacy by releasing information about her condition. THR denied the allegation.

Pham first detailed the chaotic scene inside the hospital’s ICU in an exclusive interview with the Dallas Morning News in the spring of 2015. Pham said she and her fellow nurses made decisions about safety protocols, increasing the protection beyond the gloves, gowns, and masks recommended at the time. They also decided that they should shower after leaving Duncan’s room.

“I wanted to believe that they would have my back and take care of me, but they just haven’t risen to the occasion,” Pham told the News.

Duncan, who was exposed to the disease in his native Liberia, was sent home from Presbyterian’s emergency room after his first visit. He returned when his symptoms didn’t improve and was admitted to the hospital, where he tested positive for Ebola and later died.

In her lawsuit, Pham asked for unspecified damages for physical pain and mental anguish, medical expenses, and the loss of future earnings. She also wanted THR to admit that it let down her and other front-line health care workers.

Source: Dallas Morning News; October 24, 2016.