A 26-year-old nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for the first person in the U.S. diagnosed with the deadly disease has filed a lawsuit against the parent company of the Dallas hospital where she worked.
Nina Pham filed the lawsuit Monday in Dallas County against Texas Health Resources. She contracted Ebola last fall while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.
He died, while Pham and another nurse, Amber Vinson, who contracted Ebola survived.
"She asked a nurse manager, 'What do I do?' And they looked it up on the Internet and printed out a sheet," Pham's attorney Charla Aldous said. "That's the total amount of training. That's just unacceptable."
Pham said in her lawsuit that the hospital was unprepared to treat Ebola cases and that she was an unwitting pawn in its public relations campaign to restore its reputation. She also said she worries about her long-term health.
According to Pham's lawsuit, she is seeking an unspecified amount in damages for mental anguish, physical pain and a loss of future earnings.
"I think the scariest thing right now is the uncertainty," Aldous said. "Just in the last few weeks, she started losing her hair."
A spokesman said Texas Health Resources remains optimistic the matter can be resolved.
Pham released a statement Monday stating:
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. But that didn’t happen and I felt I was left with no choice but to turn to the courts for help. 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. 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.
Texas Health Resources released the following statement:
Nina Pham served very bravely during a most difficult time as we all struggled to deal with the first case of Ebola to arrive in a U.S. hospital’s emergency room. Texas Health Resources has a strong culture of caring and compassion, and we view all our employees as part of our family. That’s why we have continued to support Nina both during and after her illness, and it’s why she is still a member of our team. As distressing as the lawsuit is to us, we remain optimistic that we can resolve this matter with Nina.
NBC 5's Jocelyn Lockwood contributed to this report.