Washington State Woman to be Arrested for Refusing Tuberculosis Treatment and Isolation

A Washington State woman is set to be arrested for repeatedly refusing tuberculosis treatment and isolation for over a year.[0] The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department applied for a warrant at the request of health officials, who described the move as a last resort, as they had “determined that [the patient] has not remained in her residence in accord with the court’s orders, nor has she treated or tested to determine the status of her tuberculosis infection.”[1]

Prolonged exposure to individuals with tuberculosis can be hazardous, as it is an airborne disease that is easily spread.[2] A three to nine-month course of antibiotics is typically prescribed for TB treatment.[3] Individuals with close, sustained exposure to someone with COVID-19 are most vulnerable to the virus.[4] It only takes a few germs inhaled to start an infection.[4]

On February 24, Judge Philip Sorenson issued a civil arrest warrant due to the patient's civil contempt for not obeying his mandate to either take her medicine or voluntarily self-isolate, as reported by the health department.[5] The warrant states that the woman started her treatment, yet did not finish it.

On Tuesday, Nigel Turner, the Division Director of Communicable Disease Control in Pierce County, wrote in a blog post that they have been working with family and community members for over a year in an effort to convince this woman to take her medication to safeguard herself and the community.[6] We are nearing the end of our legal proceedings, having gone through 15 court hearings.[7]

According to the health department, the woman was subject to an involuntary isolation order from December 25, 2022 to February 8.[8] The woman began her treatment, however, she did not complete it, according to health officials. When the woman has been in court, documents noted her speaking with “rapid, disorganized speech,” and her lack of acknowledgment of her medical condition.[9] The News-Tribune reported that the woman has tested positive for Covid-19, “suggesting that she has not been adhering to the court's order to isolate.”[9]

The health department may request that the arrest warrant be lifted if the woman meets the requirements before March 3.[5] A court date has been scheduled for March 2.[5] The arrest warrant stipulates that the woman should be taken to a specially designated area of the Pierce County Jail for isolation, testing, and treatment, the man added.[0]

0. “Washington Woman to Be Arrested After Refusing Tuberculosis Treatment” Gizmodo, 1 Mar. 2023, https://gizmodo.com/washington-woman-tuberculosis-arrest-refused-treatment-1850173225

1. “Arrest Warrant Issued for Woman Who Refuses TB Treatment” The Daily Beast, 26 Feb. 2023, https://www.thedailybeast.com/arrest-warrant-issued-for-washington-woman-who-refuses-tuberculosis-treatment

2. “Arrest warrant is issued for woman who has refused tuberculosis treatment” NBC News, 3 Mar. 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/arrest-warrant-issued-woman-refused-tuberculosis-treatment-rcna73306

3. “Tacoma Woman Sick With Tuberculosis To Be Arrested After Refusing Treatment | 102.5 KZOK” iHeart, 28 Feb. 2023, https://kzok.iheart.com/content/2023-02-28-tacoma-woman-sick-with-tuberculosis-to-be-arrested-after-refusing-treatment/

4. “After 17th court hearing, woman with TB ordered to jail for refusing treatment” Ars Technica, 3 Mar. 2023, https://arstechnica.com/science/2023/03/us-woman-headed-to-jail-for-refusing-tb-treatment-for-over-a-year

5. “Tacoma woman with Tuberculosis could be arrested Friday if she continues to refuse treatment” FOX 13 Seattle, 1 Mar. 2023, https://www.q13fox.com/news/tacoma-woman-with-tuberculosis-could-be-arrested-friday-if-she-continues-to-refuse-treatment

6. “Tacoma woman with tuberculosis refusing treatment or to isolate found in civil contempt” KING5.com, 28 Feb. 2023, https://www.king5.com/article/news/local/tacoma/tacoma-woman-tuberculosis-refuses-treatment-contempt/281-92981e31-40a1-4638-bda5-f56eb792fb41

7. “Judge issues arrest warrant for Tacoma woman with TB refusing treatment” Yahoo Life, 3 Mar. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/tacoma-woman-tb-facing-arrest-005054350.html

8. “Woman with tuberculosis to be arrested Friday unless she complies with court order to get treatment, isolate” My Moinfo, 2 Mar. 2023, https://www.mymoinfo.com/syndicated-article/?id=1494283

9. “Arrest warrant issued for Tacoma woman who has refused treatment for tuberculosis” The Columbian, 3 Mar. 2023, https://www.columbian.com/news/2023/mar/02/arrest-warrant-issued-for-tacoma-woman-who-has-refused-treatment-for-tuberculosis/

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