Nurse who had Ebola to settle part of lawsuit against hospital

Ebola survivor Nina Pham and her dog Bentley in the Star-Telegram studio, Thursday, December 18, 2014.
Ebola survivor Nina Pham and her dog Bentley in the Star-Telegram studio, Thursday, December 18, 2014. Star-Telegram

Nurse Nina Pham, one of the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas nurses who contracted Ebola in 2014, has settled at least part of her lawsuit against the hospital’s parent company, Texas Health Resources, cbsdfw.com reported today.

Pham’s lawyers appeared today before Dallas County Judge Martin Hoffman and said they are cancelling hearings planned today because they reached a settlement, according to cbsdfw.com. The Dallas Morning News reported that both sides have agreed to a settlement but no paperwork has been signed, citing unnamed sources.

Mark Annick, a spokesman for Aldous/Walker, the law firm that represents Pham, said the firm has “no update” on the case and declined to confirm the cbsdfw.com report. Comment from Presbyterian was not immediately available.

Pham, an intensive care nurse at the hospital who was raised in Fort Worth and lived in Dallas in 2014, cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, who contracted Ebola in Liberia. Duncan died at the hospital of the virus.

Pham and another nurse, Amber Vinson, contracted Ebola but survived.

In her lawsuit, Pham alleged that "the sum total" of information she was given to protect herself was "what her manager Googled and printed out from the Internet," among other allegations.

At the time, in a statement released through her lawyers, Pham said she felt she had to file suit.

"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," she said.

According to the lawsuit, nurses received no formal guidance or training on personal protective gear needed around an Ebola patient. Clear dropcloths were taped to the ceiling and walls to create a containment area, the lawsuit says. Nurses who were not trained to dispose of hazardous waste had to dispose of it and hazardous material piled up in the room next to Duncan’s, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says the first day Pham treated Duncan she wore only a regular isolation gown, double gloves, double booties and a surgical mask with a plastic shield. The guidelines for caring for an Ebola patient call for hazmat suits and specific procedures for putting them on and taking them off.

Pham also has said she is concerned about her long-term health and doubts she will ever return to work as a critical care nurse. The Morning News reported she has remained on THR’s payroll.

The hospital generally denied the allegations and had sought dismissal of the case, saying Pham should file a worker’s compensation claim.

This report contains information from the Star-Telegram archives.