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TB Outbreak Hospital Sues For Defamation

Summerlin Hospital Medical Center has filed a defamation lawsuit, complaining that a Las Vegas attorney made false and defamatory statements about the treatment of Vanessa White, a 25-year-old patient who died from undiagnosed tuberculosis at the hospital.

According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, the lawyer being sued claimed to be surprised, stating "It's a sad day when companies sue the lawyers that try to guard the public trust." He continued by explaining that "There may have been a motivation to find a cause for [White's] condition other than tuberculosis. If the cause was some other infection, they wouldn't need the state government in there to investigate... A tuberculosis diagnosis invites oversight and opens up a can of worms."


Last year, Vanessa White, 25, and her two infant daughters died of tuberculosis without being diagnosed. Her husband, Ruben White, has since filed a medical malpractice suit, claiming gross negligence and wrongful death.

According to his lawyer, "In the context of the entire orchestrated press conference, this statement refers to Summerlin Hospital and blatantly implies an intentional failure to or concealment of a diagnosis of tuberculosis." The suit names numerous nurses and doctors as defendants.

After the deaths of White and her daughters, 20 others were exposed to and diagnosed with TB. In April, the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Summerlin Hospital $39,600 for violations related to the TB outbreak.

Rob Freymuller, Summerlin Hospital's chief executive officer, released a statement saying "Summerlin Hospital extends its deepest sympathies to the family involved in this situation. However, there is no evidence to support the statement made by this attorney. It is false and insulting to the dedicated employees of Summerlin Hospital. We will not allow attorneys or others to make such false and defamatory statements about our hospital and its employees without defending ourselves." Summerlin Hospital's defamation case demands a written retraction and apology for making the damaging statements.


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