Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds jailing of uncooperative tuberculosis patient

A woman who refused treatment for TB was properly confined to jail for treatment, according to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  Check out the AP story and the court ruling.

Interesting tidbits: under Wisconsin law, the patient did not have to be confined to the least restrictive setting, and it was OK to consider cost (i.e., jail is cheaper than bringing in guards 24/7 to a hospital for one individual). 

Quite the coda to the tale of the tubercular honeymooning lawyer.

David Harlow


  1. cosmicamerican1 says

    Mr. Harlow,

    I think that your readers are entitled to a clarification. Please take a closer look at the decision. The “least restrictive” requirement does, in fact, apply to the place of confinement. The Wisconsin court unamimously held that a person who is noncompliant with treatment orders may be confined to jail only if jail is the least restrictive facility available.

    Also, you are correct in noting that the court held that cost is a permissible consideration in placement. However, cost may be factored in ONLY after the confining court has determined that the facility is a place where treatment can be provided and spread of the disease prevented, AND after the court does the “least restrictive” placement analysis. Thus, cost may be used as a sort of “tie breaker,” but, as the court held, it may not be the or even a primary consideration in placement.

    Thank you,

  2. says

    Cosmic —

    Thanks for keeping me honest. You are correct; the court of appeals blew past the least restrictive setting requirement, but the supreme court did not.