Two Years Later, Dallas Hospital Won’t Reveal How Ebola Virus Spread

Infected nurse presses lawsuit

Attorneys for Nina Pham claim that Texas Health Resources (THR), which owns Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas hospital, isn’t living up to the promise it made to share what it learned about how Ebola virus spread from a single patient who died to two nurses who cared for him at the hospital two years ago. Pham was one of those nurses.

THR said in a statement that state law declares the information Pham’s attorneys seek confidential.

Pham treated Thomas Duncan, who contracted Ebola disease in his native Liberia. He died in October 2014 at Presbyterian of Ebola complications after first being sent home from the emergency room. A few days later, Pham tested positive for the disease. She was initially treated at Presbyterian and then at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland with a series of experimental drugs and plasma from Dr. Kent Brantly, an Ebola survivor.

Pham filed a lawsuit in March 2015 against THR, alleging that while she became the American face of the fight against the disease, the hospital’s lack of training and proper equipment and its violations of her privacy made her “a symbol of corporate neglect—a casualty of a hospital system’s failure to prepare for a known and impending medical crisis.”

THR has denied the allegations in the lawsuit. The company reiterated that it believes Pham and other health care workers were properly trained and said that Pham had previously worked with the same protective gear when caring for “infectious patients.”

Pham is a critical care nurse, not an infectious disease nurse. She had never previously cared for someone with a disease such as Ebola.

Pham told reporters that she is anxious about the possible long-term effects of the Ebola infection and of the experimental drugs used to treat her. She was advised to be on the alert for possible sensory changes, vision loss, and organ failure. A Scottish nurse infected with the Ebola virus has been hospitalized twice because of complications from the disease.

Charla Aldous, Pham’s attorney, said that knowing the results of THR’s internal investigation is essential to Pham’s lawsuit and would benefit other hospitals, which could treat Ebola infection in the future.

Source: Dallas Morning News; June 7, 2016.