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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

TB Scare: How Does This Happen?

Published June 4, 2007 11:58 AM by Barbara Mercer

When I was a junior in high school, a well-liked member of the janitorial staff got tuberculosis and died. It was a sad time, and it also resulted in the every member of the school community being tested for TB -- twice.

I hadn't thought of the incident for years until I heard about Andrew Speaker, the personal injury lawyer who is experiencing his 15 minutes of fame after he flew to Paris, Rome, Greece, Prague and Montreal with a potentially infectious case of a drug-resistant form of TB.

While some details may have been tweaked by the media - it seems the odds of him spreading the disease were minimal during the time of his travels - the event still raises all sort of interesting questions and an even more interesting cast of characters.

We've got the border inspector who disregarded the order to hold Speaker and wear a mask while talking to him because Speaker seemed "perfectly healthy."

We have Speaker's apology to anyone who may have put at risk for contracting TB during his travels.

And we already have discussion of the legal questions raised by Speaker's potentially reckless behavior and the quarantine imposed upon him.

Juicy stuff, right? So, what do you think?

Do the mechanisms for identifying and tracking contagious disease need to be looked at?

Or was this incident just a really unfortunate string of coincidences and miscommunication that resulted in Speaker traveling when perhaps he shouldn't have been?

--Barbara Drosey is associate editor of the Chicago Tri-State area regional edition and TX and LA edition.


I think this lawyer should be in jail for exposing all these people. He is a lawyer and he should have known better and until authorities address these issues seriously and set a precedent nothing will happened. Besides the border patrol officer lost his job because of that incident. Health authorities should do something about this.

Guillermo, ED Dept. - PCT, Johns Hopkins hospital June 7, 2007 4:49 AM
Baltimore MD

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