Washington State Orders Arrest of Woman Refusing Treatment for Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis

A woman has been arrested in Washington state after authorities said she refused to seek treatment for tuberculosis for more than a year.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department announced in a statement on Thursday that the woman, whose identity has not been disclosed, was taken to the Pierce County Jail.

She will be housed in a room specially equipped for isolation, testing, and treatment. The department expressed gratitude to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and deputies for their role in the “necessary intervention.”

“We are hopeful she will choose to get the life-saving treatment she needs to treat her tuberculosis,” the department stated.

According to the department, the woman had refused to take the essential medication for her condition and did not stay in isolation.

Officials had worked with her family and community members for over a year to persuade her to seek treatment, but ultimately resorted to their “last option” of issuing an arrest warrant.

A judge had held the woman in civil contempt for violating his order to take medication or go into isolation and subsequently issued the arrest warrant for her to be taken into custody on or after March 3.

Tuberculosis Causing Bacteria (Photo: CDC)

The department noted that this case marks only the third time in the past 20 years that it has sought a court order to detain a potentially contagious patient who refused treatment.

They emphasized that untreated tuberculosis can be fatal and pose a significant risk of exposing others to the disease.

Law enforcement officials did not immediately detain the woman after the warrant was issued but eventually arrested her on Thursday.

“When we face challenges with a person who does not want to take medication or isolate, we connect with family members, friends, and people in their community to help.

We work to remove any barriers that may be in the way of them getting the treatment they need,” the statement explained.

“When these options don’t work, the Health Department has an obligation to the community and the legal authority to seek a court order to persuade patients to comply,” the department continued.

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