Ebola Survivor, Dallas Nurse Nina Pham, Now Wants To Sue Her Hospital: Here's Why
A nurse infected with Ebola while caring for a patient at a Dallas hospital says she plans to sue over alleged privacy issues and failure to properly train hospital staff.
Nina Pham became the first person to be infected with the Ebola virus in the U.S. while treating Thomas Duncan, who had contracted the virus in Liberia and became the first Ebola case diagnosed in the United States when he was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
He died two weeks later in the hospital, where Pham, 26, was working.
In announcing her attention to bring a suit against the hospital's parent company, Texas Health Resources, Pham said the hospital did not have the safety equipment and other resources to deal with an Ebola patient, and that staff were improperly instructed in the care and treatment necessary.
"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 said in an interview.
Pham said hazmat suits were not available to nurses working on Duncan in the first few days of his treatment, so they had to resort to doubled gloves, gowns, face shields and booties, all taped together.
The improvised ensemble left her neck area exposed, she said.
In addition, medical waste was left in a hospital room because maintenance staff refused to collect it, she said.
Pham survived her Ebola infection and was later a guest of President Barack Obama in the White House.
She was one of two nurses treating Duncan who contracted the virus; the other, Amber Vinson, also recovered.
The hospital, which has already settled with the family of Thomas Duncan for an undisclosed amount, chose not to address details of Pham's allegations, but released a statement.
"Nina Pham bravely served Texas Health Dallas during a most difficult time," the statement released by a spokesman said. "We continue to support and wish the best for her, and we remain optimistic that constructive dialog can resolve this matter."
Pham also said the hospital violated her privacy by releasing, without her permission, a video of her speaking with a doctor before she left the Dallas hospital for treatment at a National Institutes of Health clinical center in Maryland.
"I could tell that they wanted me to stay just because they kind of knew, they could see I was getting better," Pham said.
"They wanted that 'yes, we cured her' kind of attitude. They wanted a win, especially after a loss," she said, referring to the death of Duncan.
Phams' attorney said the hospital "used Nina as a PR pawn."