December 4, 2022

TB patient charged in California for not taking meds

Tuberculosis patient Armando Rodriguez was urged multiple times to continue taking his tuberculosis medication.

Tuberculosis patient Armando Rodriguez was urged multiple times to continue taking his tuberculosis medication. Authorities said he once told his case officer he stopped the treatment for fear of damaging his liver while bingeing on alcohol and methamphetamines. So, authorities made the unusual move of arresting Rodriguez and charging him with refusing to comply with a TB order to stay home at certain times and make appointments to take medication.

His arrest has divided public health officials. “I think it’s an error to confine someone in the criminal justice system for a public health crime,” said Lawrence Gostin, of Georgetown University. “The whole intention is to protect the public’s health. It’s not to lay blame on someone.” According to health officials, 34-year-old Rodriguez has active pulmonary tuberculosis, which can cause sufferers to cough up blood or phlegm, and can be spread through the air.

San Joaquin County has had over 30 TB prosecutions since 1984, and prosecutor Stephen Taylor says the county is more aggressive than other jurisdictions in prosecuting patients so they will take their medication. “The criminal cases we’re dealing with generally involve drug users who are harder to treat and manage because the TB medicines conflict with street drugs,” he said. “We have to throw these people in jail and treat them as in-patients. They don’t cooperate as out-patients.” ~ AP, May 17

TB patient charged in California for not taking meds
Jared Yee
Creative commons
public health