Woman Faces Jail Time after Ignoring Court Order to Isolate and Treat Active TB for a Year

Woman Faces Jail Time after Ignoring Court Order to Isolate and Treat Active TB for a Year

After defying many court orders over the course of a year telling her to receive treatment for her active case of TB and to remain in isolation while doing so, a woman in Washington State is now risking electronic home monitoring and even facing jail time.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department previously said that they were “monitoring” a case of active, infectious TB in a county resident who had declined treatment.

In a press announcement, the division director of Communicable Disease Control, Nigel Turner, stated that “Most people that we contact are just happy to get the treatment that they need. Occasionally, some people refuse treatment and isolation. When that happens, we take some steps to help keep the community safe.”

However, The News Tribune‘s investigation revealed that the woman’s disregard for the public health advice has long been a problem for local authorities.

The woman’s very first court order for involuntary isolation was issued on January 19, 2022, according to documents submitted to the Pierce County Superior Court.

“The Local Health Officer ordered [the woman] to self isolate and treat; which she refused to do. [The woman] hasn’t complied with such efforts, has also discontinued treatment and is still unwilling to resume treatment or voluntarily self-isolate,” the court documents obtained by the Tribune note, adding that the department was pursuing an order “requiring [the individual] to isolate in her residence [and to] cooperate with the testing and treatment as recommended by medical providers.”

After issuing a court order for involuntary isolation without result, the order had to be renewed several times throughout a whole year until finally, last month, the health department reached a breaking point.

In addition to being close to a year since she had first disobeyed a court order, the woman also got into a car accident, which seemed to further showcase her recklessness.

While not behind the wheel herself, the woman in question was a passenger when the vehicle crashed, indicating she was not at home alone as she was supposed to be, and she was in close touch with the driver, who would have been in danger of catching TB during such close contact, as per a court document submitted by the health department on January 11.

Furthermore, she neglected to disclose her active TB case to her doctors when she visited the emergency room, putting them and other hospital employees in danger of contracting the disease.

They first believed she had cancer after taking X-rays of her chest and observing the state of her lungs but soon realized her TB was getting worse, causing her chest pains.

And as if all of that was not bad enough, she even tested positive for COVID which, the court filing mentions, “also strongly suggests she is not isolating as per the court’s order.”

The order was renewed once more on January 20, adding that failing to comply “may result in a finding of contempt where the court orders further measures, up to and including electronic at-home monitoring and detention in Pierce County Jail or other lawful orders that the court may issue, in accordance with the applicable code.”

Katherine Baldwin

Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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