Texas hospital reaches settlement with nurse infected with Ebola

October 24, 2016 2:19 PM EDT

Ebola survivor Nina Pham is reunited with her dog Bentley at the Dallas Animal Services Center in Dallas, Texas, U.S. on November 1, 2014. REUTERS/Lisa Maria Garza/File Photo


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By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A nurse who contracted the Ebola virus while treating the first person diagnosed with the deadly disease in the United States has reached a settlement with the Dallas hospital where she was in a team caring for the man, a statement on Monday said.

Terms of the deal between the hospital's owner, Texas Health Resources, and nurse Nina Pham, the first person infected with Ebola in the United States, were not disclosed.

Pham sued last year, saying that Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital did not do enough to prevent her from contracting the deadly virus and invaded her privacy after she was diagnosed with it.

"Texas Health Resources (THR) and Ms. Pham have resolved the pending lawsuit, and wish the best for each other going forward," they said in a joint statement. They did not provide further details.

In the lawsuit, which was filed in Dallas County, Pham claimed the hospital did not initially provide nurses with proper protective equipment or properly train staff on how to treat the disease.

The lawsuit accused the hospital of negligence and deception. It did not specify an amount in damages.

The hospital has denied the claims.

Pham was one of two nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who contracted the disease when treating Thomas Duncan, who was admitted in September 2014 and died less than two weeks later.

Both nurses recovered. Duncan contracted the disease in Liberia.

Pham, who was 26 then, became a national symbol of hope in fighting Ebola after she recovered and was greeted in the Oval Office by President Barack Obama.

Pham claimed the hospital used her as a "public relations pawn" to improve its plummeting image. While it issued news releases saying her condition had improved to "good," it was having end-of-life conversations with her, Pham alleged in her lawsuit.

Pham said the hospital did not respect her right to privacy. In one instance, she was videotaped speaking to a doctor, and the video was released to the media. Pham said both the taping and the release of the videotape occurred without her permission.

The hospital did not disclose details of Pham's employment status, but the Dallas Morning News has reported that she was kept on the payroll even though she did not return to work.

In an interview with the newspaper last year, Pham said she has suffered hair loss, physical pain, insomnia and nightmares since recovering from Ebola.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)



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