TB Patient in California Charged for Not Taking Meds

Sudhin Thanawala, CNS News, May 17, 2012

Armando Rodriguez was warned several times to continue taking his tuberculosis medicine.

At one point, authorities said, he told his case officer he stopped the treatment out of concern for his liver while binging on alcohol and methamphetamine.

So on Tuesday, authorities took the unusual step of arresting Rodriguez and charging him with refusing to comply with a tuberculosis order to be at home at certain times and make appointments to take his medication.

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Health officials say Rodriguez, 34, of Stockton has active pulmonary tuberculosis, which can include coughing up blood or phlegm and can spread through the air.

Rodriguez has been noncompliant with his treatment and could become contagious as a result, Ginger Wick, nursing director for San Joaquin County, said in a letter requesting a warrant for Rodriguez’s arrest.

After failing one time to give himself the drugs, Rodriguez told a nurse he had gone on an alcohol binge and taken methamphetamine and didn’t want to hurt his liver, Wick said in her letter.

Rodriguez was arrested Tuesday and is expected to be arraigned Thursday on two misdemeanor counts.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said laws to control the spread of tuberculosis have been in use for more than a century, though regulations differ in each state.

As many as 12,000 new cases of tuberculosis are reported in the country each year, the CDC reported. California recorded 2,317 new cases in 2011, a low since records have been kept.

Nonetheless, officials throughout the nation continue to struggle to stop the spread of tuberculosis, with several drug-resistant strains emerging in recent years.

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Each charge against Rodriguez carries a maximum penalty of a year behind bars. In her letter, Wick said Rodriguez would need nine months of treatment.

Armando Rodriguez

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