I’ve written two previous articles on the TB hopping lawyer who endangered several hundred people because he insisted on going to Europe on a honeymoon.

In one of these articles, I noted that so far doctors, unlike police, rarely tape interviews and advice to protect themselves against aggressive lawyers.

I was being ironic.

Well, guess what?|

Our lawyer had his father tape one of his interviews. But why? I can only think of one reason: Someone else had told him he might be infectious and should not travel, and so he wanted a tape to cover himself in court to blame the doctors.

Speaker said he was advised at the time by Fulton County, Ga., health authorities that he was not contagious or a danger to anyone. Officials told him they would prefer he didn’t fly, but no one ordered him not to, he said.

Well, doctors are not drill sargents. We figure that a grown man is mature enough to know that when a doctor quietly says he doesn’t want him to fly, essentially they are saying: listen stupid, it’s dangerous to fly…and probably thinking “why the F are you taping this interview? Will I end up in court?”
And, of course, no one has actually reviewed the tape…

In other words, here were two laywers more worried about documenting a lawyer would be “innocent” of spreading the disease than worrying about spreading it.

And what type of 31 year old man takes his father with him for an interview. Wife, yes. Girlfriend often. Boyfriend sometimes. Even his mother. But his father, another lawyer?

Furthur proof is that he and his wife went crying to ABC for an interview…

Speaker’s new wife, Sarah, fought back tears as she told ABC about the horrible things said had heard said about her husband: that he was a terrorist, that he should have been eradicated.

“Imagine sitting in a foreign country with your husband and your government saying they were going to leave you there,” she said through tears.

Oh, come on, stop being a drama queen. Your father is a doctor at the CDC. You could have found this was untrue after a five minute phone call with him.

As a doctor, I should point out all the stuff about “infectivity”.

In Tuberculosis, how infectious you are depends on how many germs in the sputum you cough up. He wasn’t coughing, and only had a few germs on the smear, so was not considered “infectious”.

It takes two to six weeks to identify the TB germ, and perhaps longer to figure if it is drug resistant.

Usually, once you are on medicine, the medicine kills most of the germs (although it may take six or more months to kill all of them). So after two weeks of treatment you are not considered infectious. But if there is a question of drug resistance, you will be told to avoid spreading the germs.

The problem is that if your TB is resistant to drugs, it keeps growing, and while you are waiting for the results, your germ count could slowly creep up, and voila, open TB.

Thankfully, it sounds that he still has a low germ count in his sputum, if for no other reason the photos of his interview show him wearing a simple surgical mask (for infectious cases we use a specialized mask that is thicker).

But talk of a tennis ball sized lesion is worrisome… usually the body puts a wall around the TB (tubercule) but if the walls break down, you spit out germs, and sometimes you can die from coughing up blood. (Hemoptysis).

I’m used to treating uncooperative patients, but all I can say is: Thank God he is not my patient.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket, and she writes medical essays at HeyDoc Xanga Blog 

She has treated TB in Africa, and in the US while working for the Indian Health Service.

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