NewsNationalScripps News


Authorities arrest woman refusing tuberculosis treatment

The woman remained at large for more than three months. Now she is in an isolated jail cell after refusing tuberculosis treatments.
Authorities arrest woman refusing tuberculosis treatment
Posted at 8:04 AM, Jun 02, 2023

A woman who refused tuberculosis treatment has been arrested.

Authorities had been looking for the woman, identified as "VN" in court records, since an arrest warrant was issued more than three months ago.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department in Washington said Thursday the patient was transferred to the Pierce County Jail. Officials said the woman will be housed in an isolated unit. 

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

In late May, Judge Philip Sorenson extended the arrest warrant for VN as the woman refused to take life-saving medication or isolate. 

SEE MORE: Sweden close to becoming first 'smoke free' country in Europe

The court records show that the battle between the health department and VN over seeking treatment has been ongoing since January 2022. 

"People can die from TB if they don’t get treatment," the department stated. "And they can expose other people to unnecessary risk of getting TB."

It was not until Feb. 24 of this year when authorities decided to issue an arrest warrant. 

It's rare for the health department to take legal action in these cases. Health officials say they try to work with the person first. If that doesn't work, they contact family members, friends or people in the community for help. 

"This case is only the third time in the past 20 years the Health Department has had to seek a court order to detain a potentially contagious patient who refused treatment for TB," the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department said.

Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria that can attack the lungs, brain and spine. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 8,000 cases of tuberculosis were reported in the U.S. in 2021.

The next court hearing in the case is scheduled for June 23. 

A message for the woman’s attorney has been left by Scripps News.

Trending stories at