Nina Pham, the nurse who was infected by the deadly Ebola virus after being part of the team that treated the first person diagnosed with it in the United States, has reached a settlement over the lawsuit that she filed against the Dallas hospital where she worked.
Pham was infected with Ebola after treating Thomas Duncan, who contracted the virus in Liberia. He was admitted to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas but succumbed to the virus two weeks later.
Last year, Pham said that the lawsuit against Texas Health Resources, the parent company of the hospital, was due to the absence of proper safety equipment and resources needed to handle the Ebola case, with the hospital staff not receiving proper training and instructions on what they needed to do in the situation.
Pham said that all the information that was given to her for protection when Duncan was taken in, before it was confirmed that he had Ebola, were what her manager simply searched for online and printed out.
The lawsuit accused the hospital of negligence and deception in how it handled having Duncan as a patient and its lack of support for its workers. There was no amount specified for the damages being sought.
Lawyers for Nina Pham announced that a settlement has been reached with Texas Health Resources over the lawsuit, with the terms of the deal remaining undisclosed. The hospital, however, still denies the claims made in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit said Pham was "a casualty of a hospital system's failure to prepare for a known and impending medical crisis," as it described the chaotic situation that ensued at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital once Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola.
Nurses, who did not receive any formal training or guidance from supervisors were left to scramble for protective clothing that they could wear. Clear drop cloths were then taped to the ceiling and walls to put up a makeshift containment facility, with nurses needing to dispose hazardous waste themselves despite not being trained to do so.
After the death of Duncan, Pham was told that she was safe from Ebola. She then spent time with her friends and family, but two days afterward, she started feeling sick. After a visit to a hospital, it was confirmed that she was infected with the virus. Fortunately, she was able to recover.
The settlement with Texas Health Resources could finally be the end of a difficult chapter in Pham's life. However, the same could not be said for Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, as the World Health Organization warned earlier in the year that the African countries are still under threat from the Ebola virus.