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Doctor to sue Ebola survivor for defamation

The Local · 27 Nov 2014, 17:20

Published: 27 Nov 2014 17:20 GMT+01:00

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A doctor who treated Romero, thought to be the first person to have contracted Ebola outside of Africa, is planning to sue the nursing assistant.

The decision to take legal action comes after Romero claimed she had told the doctor she had been treating Ebola patients and was therefore a high-risk case — a claim denied by the doctor who doesn't want to be named.

Romero, who had been part of health teams at Madrid’s Carlos III hospital where two Catholic missionaries were treated after returning from Africa with Ebola, visited her local clinic in the Madrid suburb of Alcorcón on October 2nd as she was feeling unwell. After that, exactly what was said in the meeting of nursing assistant and doctor depends on whose version you listen to.

Romero, who in November was given the all-clear and discharged from Carlos III after intensive treatment for Ebola, has said in media interviews that she told the doctor that she had been working with Ebola patients and that she had had a temperature as high as 38.7ºC.

The doctor has hit back through her lawyer, who announced on Thursday that she was presenting a “mediation demand” prior to suing for defamation.

In a statement presented by her lawyer, the doctor says that Romero did not "in any way" communicate that she had been working at the Carlos III hospital with patients diagnosed with Ebola, adding that the “clinical record bears witness to this”.

Romero has said in at least one interview that the doctor told her to take a paracetamol, a drug that would have the effect of merely masking Ebola’s symptoms and thus put a patient in greater danger.  

Both missionaries treated at the Carlos III hospital died of the disease. The exact cause of Romero’s infection has not been established, but the case led to heavy criticism over the protective suits health staff were given, plus a lack of instruction on how to use them and the tiny one-square-metre (10.8-feet) space in which the nursing assistant had to take off the suits after exiting the isolation ward.       

Story continues below…

This new legal action is not the first in connection with the nursing assistant’s ordeal. Romero tried to sue the Madrid health department chief who had criticized her by saying that "you don’t need a Master’s degree to learn how to put the suit on", after suggestions the nursing assistant incorrectly removed safety gear after treating patients with Ebola.

Another legal case, brought against the same department for the decision to put down Romero’s dog, has also failed to prosper in the courts.  

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