Texas Hospital Seeks Dismissal of Ebola Lawsuit

Texas Health Resources says that because nurse Nina Pham became ill on the job, her claim is a worker's compensation matter, not one for civil court.

The operator of the hospital where a patient died from Ebola and 2 nurses caring for him caught the virus seeks to dismiss the lawsuit from one of the nurses, the Associated Press has reported.

Texas Health Resources of Dallas has filed a response April 4, 2015, to the suit from nurse Nina Pham, who sued her employer March 2, 2015. Ms Pham’s high-profile action was accompanied by a front-page profile in The Dallas Morning News and coverage on national television. Ms Pham technically remains employed by Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas but has not returned to work. She seeks unspecified damages in her suit.

Thomas Eric Duncan, a visitor from Liberia, died October 8, 2014, at the hospital after a saga that started when he showed up in the Texas Presbyterian emergency room September 25, 2014, with a fever and symptoms that included nausea, dizziness, and abdominal pain. The nurse there did not ask his travel history and sent him home. His symptoms worsened and he returned September 28, 2014, this time in an ambulance.

After being diagnosed with Ebola, Mr Duncan was treated by Ms Pham and other nurses until his death. Ms Pham’s suit described the “on the fly” decision-making that went into Mr Duncan’s care, as well as the privacy violations that occurred once she was diagnosed with the virus. The hospital system has already reached a settlement with the Duncan family, according to several published reports.

Texas Health Resources spokesman Wendell Watson, in a statement, said the company and hospital acted responsibly to protect employees, basing responses on the most current federal guidelines and after consulting with Emory University in Atlanta, which had treated patients with Ebola.

The hospital contradicted Ms Pham’s claims that her privacy was violated and said it acted only with her consent. A specific point of contention in the suit, and in her interviews, was an October 16, 2014, videotape of Ms Pham in a hospital bed that was made public.

Texas Health Resources asserts that since Ms Pham contracted Ebola on the job, her remedy should be worker’s compensation claim, not one in civil court. Charla Aldous, attorney for Ms Pham, told the Associated Press she was “disappointed but not surprised” with that response.

“My hope was that they would come clean and be honest about what happened, so that the healthcare community can learn about the mistakes made,” she said.

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