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Will Texas Nurse’s Ebola Exposure Be Considered a Workplace Injury, or the Result of Employer Negligence?

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When news of the Ebola virus entering the United States first broke, it created a widespread panic that the media latched onto with a frenzy, perpetuating the belief that the end was nigh for Americans. Meanwhile, the healthcare workers—namely nurses—in charge of caring for the man who entered the country infected with the virus continued to do their jobs, often navigating uncharted territory and learning on the go.

Nurse Nina Pham became the first American to contract Ebola in the United States shortly after, and the ensuing coverage of her illness and recovery had everyone on the edge of their seats. Now, Pham has filed a lawsuit against her employer, citing employer neglect for (among other claims) failure to properly train employees in a medical crisis.

Heads Up, New Jersey Nurses: The Outcome of This Legal Battle Will Affect You

As a healthcare worker, you take calculated risks as a part of your daily routine, regularly interacting with sick patients and handling dangerous materials. If you were to become hurt on the job, you would likely file a workers’ compensation claim to receive medical and wage loss benefits.

Pham’s lawsuit has taken it a step further, claiming that her illness was not a result of her job duties, but rather the result of the hospital’s failure to prepare the facility and staff for a medical event of such proportion. Texas Health Resources (THR) responded to her suit, claiming that because Pham contracted the virus in the scope of her employment, the case must be handled as a workers’ compensation case.

Both sides have made compelling arguments, and time will tell how the case shakes out and which court will preside. One thing is for certain, however: the outcome of this case will set a precedent for future similar cases, which will greatly affect healthcare workers in New Jersey and beyond.

Do you work in the healthcare field in New Jersey? How do you think this case will play out? Sound off in the comments below, or start a discussion on social media—we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Category: Workers' Comp

Manfred Ricciardelli
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