Should Nurse Nina Pham sue Texas Health Resources, parent company of Texas Presbyterian Hospital, for gross negligence?
Nurse Nina Pham
Nurse Nina Pham cared for her patient, Thomas Eric Dunn, who was infected with the deadly Ebola virus, right up until his death. She nursed him at grave danger to herself and before the proper resources and protocols were put in place to protect her.
Nina Pham only did what nurses do every day- work-arounds. Work-arounds for insufficient resources, including insufficient staffing and equipment. Work-arounds that often involve tape and nurse ingenuity.
Usually the results are not catastrophic and the job gets done.
But not this time. For Nurse Nina Pham, a direct result of caring for Mr. Dunn was that she contracted Ebola.
Thankfully, Nina Pham survived, but her fledgling nursing career is now sidelined. She has not fully recovered her health, she is unable to work, and the side effects she faces from Ebola and the treatment she received are terrifyingly unknown.
One of Nina’s latest symptoms is that her hair is falling out. She fears the social stigma of having been infected with Ebola and wonders if she’ll be able to get pregnant some day.
Nurse Nina Pham has lost her privacy, her life as she knew it, and, painfully, trust in her employer.
Her own employer used her as a pawn in their efforts to redeem their image.
Dr. Gary Weinstein and the Video
In the video filmed by Dr. Weinstein, Dr. Weinstein cheerfully portrays himself as an overly solicitous doctor in full isolation garb interviewing Nina Pham. He urges her not to cry while handing her tissues and asking if she needs anything.
Clearly the video was a PR ploy by Texas Health Resources to show Nina as a loyal and grateful employee who was improving due to their care, and to associate Texas Presbyterian Hospital with Nina’s likeable and sympathetic image.
The reality is that a hospital made a decision to enlist one of their doctors to produce and release a film of one of their own patients. A twenty-six year old, medicated and isolated patient with a life threatening disease, on an emotional roller coaster (if not suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) who had just watched her patient die from Ebola.
Texas Presbyterian Hospital
Texas Presbyterian Hospital showed a lack of leadership and did not respond with urgency when faced with the crisis of a deadly virus, initially leaving their nurses to figure out what to do.
Next they produced and released a video of a very ill, very vulnerable patient. Who also happens to be an employee.
Then they failed to proactively prevent a predictable lawsuit from said employee.
Admittedly, (allegedly?) they do not appear to be adept at crisis management.
Nurse Nina Pham’s Decision to Sue
Should she sue? Maybe the better question is: “What does Nurse Nina want, and will she gain it through the legal system?” paraphrased from @dougkempf
Sometimes noble people sue for noble reasons, motivated by a desire to stand up for their personal beliefs or principles.
Sometimes fair-minded people sue for justice, and to prevent the same from happening to someone else.
Sometimes injured people justifiably sue to regain financial losses and anticipated financial losses.
And sometimes people sue because they are overly influenced by people who would use them, and who do not have their best interests at heart.
Regardless, there is a steep price to be paid.
- Will suing her employer mean that no hospital will ever hire Nurse Nina Pham?
- Will the settlement (and of course this will end in an out of court settlement with undisclosed terms) offset the trauma that Texas Health Resources’ hardball lawyers will subject Nina to?
- Will it be worth the long, drawn-out emotional affair ahead? What will the effect be on her health?
- If it goes to court, will nurse employees of Texas Presbyterian testify on Nina’s behalf?
My heart goes out to young Nurse Nina Pham, who through no fault of her own, has found herself in the eye of the storm. My hope is that she has friends and family who are providing wise counsel to help her make the decisions that are best for her as she navigates this time in her life.
Read Nurse Eye Roll Kati’s Open letter to Nina here, calling nurses to support our colleague.
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What are your thoughts? What would you do?
Until next time friend,