Ebola survivor Romero reaches deal with doctor to avoid lawsuit

Nursing assistant admits she withheld critical information from physician while contagious

Nursing assistant Teresa Romero walking into a Madrid courthouse on Wednesday.
Nursing assistant Teresa Romero walking into a Madrid courthouse on Wednesday.juan carlos hidalgo (efe)

Teresa Romero, the Spanish nursing assistant who contracted and survived Ebola last year, has admitted lying about telling the primary care physician who initially treated her that she had been in contact with the virus.

On Wednesday, Romero reached an out-of-court settlement with the doctor she went to see prior to her diagnosis, who was threatening to sue her over statements the nursing assistant made after her recovery.

Part of the agreement required Romero to publicly admit that she did not tell the truth when she said she had informed her doctor about her line of work during an appointment in the early stages of her disease.

The settlement required Romero to publicly admit that she did not tell the truth about informing her doctor of her contact with Ebola

The doctor, who works at the Alcorcón primary health center but whose name has not been released, always affirmed that Romero never told her that she had cared for Ebola patients and was at risk of having contracted the disease. As a result, she did not take precautionary measures and prescribed ordinary painkillers to treat Romero’s fever.

When it emerged that Romero had been admitted into hospital with Ebola, the physician voluntarily placed herself in quarantine to prevent the risk of further contagion.

“We could have asked for damages, but all the doctor wanted was to clean up her professional name,” said the physician’s lawyer, Ana Plaza, on Wednesday.

The nursing assistant’s case triggered a national panic when it emerged that she had gone about her everyday life for over a week before checking into Carlos III-La Paz Hospital in Madrid.

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Romero, 44, contracted the virus after caring for an infected patient at that same hospital, where she works. She spent a month battling the disease while dozens of people who had come into contact with her when she was already running a fever remained in isolation.

While Romero initially admitted that she had never told her primary care physician about her risk factors, she changed her version of events after being discharged from hospital on November 5.

By then, her husband Javier Limón had hired a lawyer to represent them, and the attorney announced that the couple would seek €300,000 in damages from regional authorities for putting down their dog while she was in hospital, and for statements made by regional health chief Javier Rodríguez to the effect that she was a liar and not a competent professional.

Rodríguez was later sacked for his statements, while the Alcorcón physician announced legal action against the nursing aide.

For her part, Romero declined to make any personal comments after reading out her confession. Her lawyer said that her client now “feels much better” and was back at work after taking leave following her hospital discharge.

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