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Nina Pham speaking at a press conference after being released from care at NIH.

The Fall of 2014 will go down as one of the most terrifying moments in American history. The outbreak of the Ebola virus in the United States was something many feared. Once Thomas Duncan died from the virus at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, the fear of the public grew and local news outlets began covering the outbreak with haste. In a previous blog, we covered whether the nurses and medical staff who treated Mr. Duncan would be able to file a lawsuit for damages if infected with the disease. Shortly thereafter, news spread of nurse who had become infected with Ebola in the course of treating Mr. Duncan.

First Ebola Lawsuit Intended to be Filed

The nurse who was first infected, Nina Pham, has intentions of filing a lawsuit for negligence and invasion of privacy.  Her lawsuit will be filed in Dallas County, Texas against Texas Health Resources, the parent company of the hospital in which she worked. Ms. Pham’s lawsuit alleges negligence, considering the hospital and its’ parent company did not provide adequate training for the staff to safely treat Ebola. In addition, the lawsuit alleges the medical staff was not provided proper equipment to wear in order to  safely treat Ebola without being infected. Ms. Pham’s lawsuit also alleges an invasion of privacy. Many HIPAA guidelines were likely breached when the hospital used Pham’s recovery to improve their image. Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital released her health information and identity to the public without expressed permission. The hospital and Texas Health Resources were likely on damage control immediately following the initial news report of Ms. Pham’s infection of Ebola. Her lawsuit also alleges the hospital published a video of her in her recovery room and uploaded it to their public relations page without her consent.

After Ms. Pham was diagnosed with Ebola, she was initially treated at Texas Presbyterian, but was later transferred to National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. While admitted at NIH, Ms. Pham received plasma donations from Dr. Kent Brantly, the doctor who was diagnosed with Ebola and was successfully treated and recovered at a hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. It is unclear whether these plasma donations aided in her recovery, but several patients diagnosed with Ebola received similar treatments.


Dr. Kent Brantly during his mission of treating Ebola in West Africa.

While we are saddened by Ms. Pham’s ordeal, we are pleased to hear she is filing a lawsuit to ensure this does not happen to another member of any hospital staff in the future. Your employer has a duty to provide you a safe work environment. A lawsuit is merely a tool to use when you believe you have been damaged as a result of another’s negligence.  It is important to consult with an attorney if you believe you are entitled to file a lawsuit.

Contact our office today at 314-862-7222 if you believe you are entitled to file a lawsuit for any reason.