Nina Pham, the Nurse Who Survived Ebola, Says She 'Had No Choice' But to Sue Hospital

Pam WrightLife

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Nina Pham, the first person to ever contract Ebola in the United States, says she "had no choice" but to sue the hospital where she contracted the virus.

Nina Pham — who is a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas and contracted the disease while treating Thomas Eric Duncan, who was sent home initially after displaying signs of the Ebola virus and later died — filed a lawsuit March 4 against the hospital’s parent company, Texas Health Resources, saying she was “a symbol of corporate neglect — a casualty of a hospital system’s failure to prepare for a known and impending medical crisis.”

The documents claim THR didn't heed Ebola warnings and its chief medical officer “made numerous patently false statements to Congress.” The documents further claim the company “wholly failed to ensure that appropriate polices, procedures, and equipment were in place,” which put staff like Nina Pham at risk.

“I was hoping that THR would be more open and honest about everything that happened at the hospital, and the things they didn’t do that led to me getting infected with Ebola,” Pham said in a statement. “But that didn’t happen and I felt I was left with no choice but to turn to the courts for help.”

The lawsuit claims medical staff were improperly trained for the Ebola virus.

“In a cruel twist, after watching Mr. Duncan go through the horrific and painful course of the disease as she desperately tried to save his life, Nina herself was diagnosed with Ebola just two days after Mr. Duncan’s life was taken by it,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also accuses the hospital of neglect by discharging Thomas Eric Duncan after he sought treatment initially.

“Had THR heeded the CDC and other warnings and ensured its hospitals were ready for Ebola, Mr. Duncan would have had the best opportunity to possibly survive,” it says.

Nina Pham claims she has lasting trauma as a result of the ordeal.

“The fact is, I’m facing a number of issues with regard to my health and my career and the lawsuit provides a way to address them,” Pham said in her statement. “But more importantly, it will help uncover the truth of what happened, and educate all health care providers and administrators about ways to be better prepared for the next public health emergency.

“I particularly want to express my continued sympathy to the family of Mr. Duncan, as it was my privilege to care for him. I also want to acknowledge my fellow nurses, and the many friends, family and strangers for their ongoing concern and support.”

Pam Wright