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First U.S.-Based Ebola Victim, a Nurse, Files Negligence Lawsuit

Nina Pham says that she didn’t want to commence litigation against the parent company of the hospital that still employs her; rather, she says that circumstances forced her to do so.

“I felt I was left with no choice but to turn to the courts for help,” she said recently, following the filing of a civil lawsuit against Texas Health Resources (THR) alleging negligence preparing for and treating Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

For our readers in Missouri and elsewhere who might not be able to immediately place Pham, memories will likely flood back with these image-laden assists: first, Pham being taken out of her hospital on a stretcher and loaded into a helicopter for treatment elsewhere after she contracted Ebola; and, second, the nurse receiving a hearty hug at the White House from President Obama after recovering from the often fatal infection.

Pham’s lawsuit cites a number of THR shortcomings that directly contributed to her illness and to the death of the patient she was treating. Her complaint states that the hospital knew about but essentially ignored warnings about Ebola from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources. Pham also says that her employer did not have the proper equipment on hand to protect her and other care providers from infection and that, further, it failed to provide relevant training and education regarding the disease.

Pham says she is hopeful that the litigation will serve as a catalyst for better training and heightened awareness “for the next public health emergency.”

The lawsuit, which seeks damages for pain, mental anguish, medical expenses and likely loss of future earnings, does not cite a specific amount being sought.

Source: CNN, “Texas nurse who contracted Ebola sues hospital company,” Eliott C. McLaughlin and Holly Yan, March 2, 2015