Another TB patient victim of bumbling U.S. authorities

A man who has been incarcerated in a prison hospital for almost a year with what is thought to be a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis (TB) has now been transferred to a hospital in Denver for treatment.

The man Robert Daniels age 27, has a multiple drug-resistant form of TB and was apparently placed in a jail ward at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix last August under court order after medical authorities complained that he had endangered others.

Daniels has now been transferred to Denver's National Jewish Medical and Research Center, which specializes in treating respiratory diseases, which is also treating the globe trotting TB patient Andrew Speaker.

The Atlanta attorney caused a major international health scare in May after he flew to Europe supposedly knowing he had a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis.

Speaker underwent successful surgery this week for his TB.

According to Daniel's lawyer Linda Cosme, a transfer to Denver was sought by Maricopa County medical experts because Daniels' condition was deteriorating but she says her client was finding it hard to be separated from his family and was despondent after months of solitary confinement.

Cosme says her client has been imprisoned as if he was a criminal, and his rights were ignored.

Daniels was never charged with a crime, but apparently endangered others by disobeying instructions from health officials such as wearing a mask and was placed in the jail ward at the Maricopa Medical Center.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit claiming Daniels was being treated like a criminal while in the Phoenix hospital and his rights were being violated.

According to the ACLU this was because authorities deliberately failed to explore alternative locations in which to quarantine him in an effort to cut costs.

Since being on the jail ward Daniels has lost more than 25 pounds and was treated like any other inmate, subjected to intrusive strip searches, and was unable to receive any visits from family and friends.

He was not permitted to exercise or walk outside, and had no access to social or recreational activities such as the Internet and video cameras recorded his every move.

His only showers came nine months after incarceration, when the ACLU lawsuit was filed.

Daniels is no longer considered to be contagious but his only hope for a cure is specialized surgery to remove the tuberculosis in his lungs.

The National Jewish hospital specializes in performing surgery on multi-drug resistant tuberculosis patients, and many patients who have had surgery at the facility in the past became culture-negative shortly after surgery and were able to go home a month after surgery.

The ACLU’s complaint in this case can be found online at: PDFs/20070531_complaint_file.pdf


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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