One of the more shocking allegations in the lawsuit nurse Nina Pham filed recently against Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas involves what she says was a deceitful attempt to help bolster the hospital’s public image during a frenzy of media coverage about Ebola.
After Amber Vinson, a second nurse at Presbyterian also was confirmed to have Ebola, the hospital’s parent company Texas Health Resources (THR) went into full crisis mode, the lawsuit states. Public perception was that the hospital was incompetent, and it was in need of good news.
“Desperately, THR issued a press release that announced Nina’s condition had been upgraded from stable to good in hopes that the public would think THR was doing something right. However despite publicly claiming Nina was in good condition, Nina’s medical records tell another story,” the lawsuit says.
Pham’s medical records show that while Texas Health Resources was publicly proclaiming her improved condition, healthcare providers were at the same time having end-of-life discussions with her in which they tried to convince her not to require lifesaving measures, the lawsuit claims. Her physicians specifically documented in the record that Pham was in such critical condition that she could not make decisions for herself.
“Perhaps the act most indicative of THR’s callousness in the pursuit of good PR happened on the day Nina finally got transferred to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. THR desperately wanted to claim credit for making Nina better so that the public would not believe that Nina was being transferred because she was not receiving proper medical care,” the lawsuit claims.
Before she departed for the National Institutes of Health, one of Nina’s physicians entered her hospital room with a tiny GoPro camera under his hood filming everything in the room, according to her lawsuit. The physician tried to get Nina to say good things about Presbyterian and to get her to say that she was feeling well and wished she was not being transferred, Pham claims.
“Nina, unclear as to what was occurring, did not give the answers THR was looking for. The physician tried to tease out any good sound bites he could get but mostly failed. Finally at the end of the discussions, he made Nina tear up a little bit and then respond with optimistic statements,” the lawsuit alleges. “THR immediately edited the video to make it look as good as possible for THR. Then THR released it to the press and published it on the THR YouTube site.”