Tenet Healthcare Corp. is facing a $1.5 billion class action lawsuit. Plaintiffs claim that patients and newborns were exposed to tuberculosis after administrators ignored a nurse assistant’s symptoms and allowed her to work multiple shift. Those shifts put the woman in contact with newborn infants and their families.
Esperanza Martinez, the nurse assistant, told the hospital in December 2013 that she had symptoms of active tuberculosis. She was not removed from her duties until August 2014. During that time, she cared for approximately 3,000 newborns.
According to the filing, Providence Memorial and Tenet did nothing to reduce the exposure to families and their infants. Instead, they failed to alert all exposed, only sending letters to families whose babies had been born on the days that Martinez was working. The Texas Department of State Health Services said that Providence Memorial did not adequately protect its patients.
The lawsuit is asking that Tenet pay for tuberculosis tests. They also want those tests to be interpreted by an impartial third party. The families of the exposed infants are worried that employees of the hospital could be biased and may fail to read the tests accurately. Plaintiffs are also requesting damages for mental anguish, bodily injury, lost earnings and more.
If the corporation loses the lawsuit, the resulting damages could exceed $1.5 billion. The complain said, in part, “By allowing an employee who displayed symptoms of an infectious disease to continue working in and around hospital grounds, the defendants acted negligently, carelessly, recklessly and with a conscious disregard for the plaintiffs’ safety and rights.” It is not clear when the case will be heard in court.
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