Medicolegal

1916 Journal of the American Medical Association  
The Supreme Court of South Dakota affirms an order denying a writ of mandamus which the plaintiff sought to compel the health officer of Sioux Falls to remove a small¬ pox patient from his home to the pesthouse or city hospital, or some other safe and proper place. The court says that an ordinance of the city provided that it should be the duty of the health officer to visit and examine all sick persons who should be reported to him as being sick or supposed to be sick with any infectious or
more » ... ny infectious or pestilential disease, and cause all such infected persons to be removed to the pesthouse or city hospital, or some other safe and proper place. The smallpox patient was an employe in the home of the plaintiff. From the latter the health officer received proper notice, and visited the patient, but, instead of removing her from the plaintiff's house, he quarantined the house. It appeared that the city had no city hospital or pesthouse, and that it had not provided any other "safe and proper place" for the care of persons suffering from "infectious or pestilential disease." The health officer alleged that he was powerless to do more than he had done in the case. The trial court was right in refusing the writ prayed for. It was not shown that there was any ordinance under which the health officer was pro¬ vided with, or given the power to obtain, the means or funds necessary to provide a suitable place and the necessary equip¬ ment for the care of the patient in question. It was not shown that the health officer had been provided with such means from any source. Sioux Falls is a city under com¬ mission. No officer of such city can expend any of its funds unless the appropriation ordinance for the current year pro¬ vides a fund for the purpose for which the expense is sought to be made. There was no showing that the city had, by an appropriation ordinance, provided any fund on which war¬ rants could have been drawn to provide any place for the care of this smallpox patient. Certainly no officer should be compelled to perform any duty involving the expenditure of funds, where no funds have been provided with which to meet such expenditure. How could this health officer comply with the writ prayed for? He could not compel the com¬ missioners of the city to provide a place, and he could not be compelled to provide a place at his own expense.
doi:10.1001/jama.1916.02580390051034 fatcat:e4afjlt46vacvmt527mn4xifhi