Nurse Who Survived Ebola Is Suing Texas Hospital

'PR pawn' Nina Pham says hospital failed her
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2015 12:15 AM CST
Updated Mar 2, 2015 8:00 AM CST
Nurse Who Survived Ebola: Hospital Failed Me
In this Feb. 25, 2015, photo, Ebola survivor Nina Pham walks in a park with her dog Bentley in Dallas.   (AP Photo/The Dallas Morning News, Smiley N. Pool)

Nina Pham beat Ebola; now she's taking on the place where she caught it. Pham, who contracted the virus while caring for dying patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, tells the Dallas Morning News that she is suing the parent company of the hospital that made her a "symbol of corporate neglect." Among her accusations:

  • A lack of training. Pham says the only Ebola training that nurses caring for Duncan initially received was a printout of guidelines her supervisor had found online, and all she knew about the disease was what she had learned in nursing school years earlier.

  • A lack of equipment. Pham says the hospital at first did not supply proper protective gear, leaving nurses with their skin exposed, and nurses were only given hazmat suits after days of asking for them. She says decisions about protective gear had to be made by the nurses themselves "on the fly."
  • No respect for privacy. Pham says that after she was placed in an isolation unit, the hospital not only disregarded her request not to have her name released—it also didn't ask her permission before giving the media a video of her taken by a doctor. Her lawyer tells the Morning News Pham was treated as a "PR pawn" and was asked about a media release "about how much she loves Presbyterian" on the same day a note was added to her medical files saying "she does not have the mental capability to make end-of-life decisions."
The 26-year-old was declared Ebola-free in October, but she tells the Morning News she still suffers lingering problems, including insomnia, body aches, and hair loss. She has been warned that the aftereffects of experimental drugs used to treat her could include organ failure and vision loss, and she isn't sure if she'll be able to have children—or work as a nurse again. She is seeking damages, but her lawyer tells ABC News that she also aims to be a "voice for other nurses" and wants the lawsuit to "help make sure that hospitals and big corporations properly train their nurses and health-care providers." (Read more Nina Pham stories.)

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