1. Shbooblie
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    Shbooblie Contributing Member

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    Escaping from a hospital in the USA?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Shbooblie, May 21, 2015.

    So I've done a bit of research and found out that you can lawfully be held in a hospital under federal quarantine if you have certain diseases for public protection, such as yellow fever or Ebola . I've read about Robert Daniels and Andrew Speaker as a bit of background research. I also found information about escaped TB patients but nobody would confirm whether anyone had been sent to track them down.

    In my story the B character is hospitalized for an unknown disease (an undiscovered fictional disease) which the A character has unknowingly passed on to her. A realizes what is going on after something happens and knows that he needs to get her out of there to protect them both.

    If someone were discovered to have a previously unknown disease would they automatically have to be put in federal quarantine? What if someone in quarantine escaped, I'm assuming the hospital security would pursue them but is it likely that they would they be tracked by the law?
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know for sure, but I don't think it would be the hospital security that would be tracking them. One, they don't have the expertise or the resources, and two, it's not really their jurisdiction.

    I googled "Breaking quarantine in the US" and the first result was http://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/aboutlawsregulationsquarantineisolation.html which seems to have some pretty good information. Sounds like this wouldn't likely be a federal quarantine, so you'd need to decide which state this takes place in for detailed answers.
     
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  3. Shbooblie
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    Shbooblie Contributing Member

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    Thanks BayView, this is really helpful. It's a big topic to research, especially knowing practically nothing about US law. You've helped me narrow it down quite a bit. I want my story to be accurate as possible to counteract the dreaded plot hole!
     
  4. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    If you're going for a dramatic "hunt/hide" sort of exchange, I'm with BayView in guessing that the security contingent of any particular hospital wouldn't be experienced nor equipped well enough.

    Depending on the seriousness of the disease in question and the manner in which the subject escaped, certain federal agencies may be involved. If this is a dangerous, fatal, communicable disease and the patient escaped in an overtly violent manner (especially if serious injury or death occurred), you could expect the US Marshals Service to get involved (as their area of expertise is with fugitives) with backup from a team of experts from the Centers for Disease Control.
     
  5. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm sceptical that "an unknown disease" would automatically trigger a quarantine...I'd suspect that CERTAIN illnesses are quarantinable, but until you can identify it?....
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Not likely.

    In the US, first off, quarantine is ordered by the designated public health officer (county public health departments). Within 72 hours the quarantined person has to be ordered detained by a judge. Of course they would almost always go with what the PHO recommended.

    While it is state laws that govern this, the CDC is officially the overseer of county public health departments but federal quarantine laws exist as well.

    People with undiagnosed contagious diseases show up all the time. An outbreak takes more than one case to cause concern. SARS, for example, was roiling for months in Guangdong China before spreading to Hong Kong. And after the spread to the 9 elevator contacts who then left the country, it was another week or maybe a month, I don't recall, before we got an order to stop people at international airports.

    Airlines can refuse to let people board a plane.

    Only after a patient refuses to adhere to voluntary quarantine does the PHO get involved and order detention. In addition, detention takes place in a jail infirmary, not in a hospital.

    Currently the SARS-like illness Mers-CoV has been smoldering in and around Saudi Arabia with many exported cases. The latest export was to Korea. No one worried that was a pandemic in progress. It was closely watched, but the idea of the single patient pandemic is generally a myth.

    I liken pandemics to fires, they tend to smolder before flaring up and even then, they can generally be controlled. The characteristics that lead to deadly world-wide pandemics include either long latency periods like HIV where the disease is contagious in patients who don't know they are sick, or in diseases like influenza where mild cases slip through the cracks.

    Or you have something like TB that takes months to treat, and begins as an insidious cough people ignore. TB was controllable until we began to see more extremely drug resistant cases. The problem is it takes a significant public health infrastructure to control TB and that is non-existent in poverty stricken countries.

    Ebola as well, that would never have spread far in the US, and if hospitals took infection control more seriously, those nurses wouldn't have gotten infected either. It was the lack of resources that contributed to the ebola epidemics in Africa.
     
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  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Re this:
    You would be surprised how we manage such things.

    A while back the police in this area were refusing to arrest people who merely said they had TB. I can't imagine them looking for them.

    All the while they were doing a terrible job screening people who actually had symptoms. They just don't have the infectious disease training and they are often paranoid about certain infections like TB and MRSA.

    No one working in a hospital besides building security has anything whatsoever to do with policing contagious patients. We restrain confused people, and even then it's under strict guidelines.

    The public health is charged with mandating quarantine and they have to get the police to do any actual arresting or detaining. The PHD employees are not given any kind of police training or powers except the power to order detention, and the police don't get nearly enough training in infectious disease. Everyone goes by the seat of their pants when it comes up.
     
  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    No, your assumption is wrong, and no, in that order. :)
     
  9. Daemon Wolf
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    Daemon Wolf Active Member

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    Have you never seen X-Files? It answers that question a LOT.
     
  10. Shbooblie
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    Shbooblie Contributing Member

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    Thanks @GingerCoffee. What you wrote is really interesting and extremely informative. It will help me out a lot with writing a realistic scene. And @Daemon Wolf , I've never seen the x-files! It was on when I was a kid and I happened to walk in on a particularly scary bit and it kind of put me off!
     
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  11. Daemon Wolf
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    Well the X-Files deal with a lot of secretive government conspiracies with having to quarantine people with new found diseases and new found life forms, etc. It is my favorite show ever! It basically shows how fast the government is to, in essence, clean up the messes made by unknown infections/man made infections along with a lot of other things. I mean half the time that Fox Molder (One of the two main characters) turns around to take another look at what he just discovered he finds out that the government has already burned down/quarantines/destroyed/etc any of the evidence or the quarantine side.
     
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  12. GingerCoffee
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    In other words, in fiction you can take a lot of liberties with reality. Always important to keep in mind. :)
     
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