The emergency department is a determinant point of contact of tuberculosis patients prior to diagnosis

Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2002 Apr;6(4):332-9.


Setting: Metropolitan Edmonton, Canada.

Objectives: To determine 1) the pre-diagnosis emergency department utilization history of urban tuberculosis patients, and 2) the resource and outcome implications of emergency department utilization by tuberculosis patients pre-diagnosis.

Design: Nested case (emergency department attendee) control (non-emergency department attendee) study of a retrospective cohort of tuberculosis patients.

Patients: All tuberculosis notifications, 1994 through 1998.

Main outcome measures: Emergency department utilization during the 6 months antedating the diagnosis and emergency department attendee characteristics; for those notified in 1997 and 1998, hospitalizations, nosocomial infectiousness time, and health care costs.

Results: Of 250 cases of tuberculosis, 117 (47%) made a total of 258 pre-diagnosis emergency department visits. Emergency department use increased the nearer the patient was to diagnosis. Emergency department attendees were more likely to be older, to have smear and/or culture positive respiratory disease, to have a risk factor for progression of infection to disease, and to have a fatal outcome. In 1997 and 1998, emergency department throughput accounted for 70% of all hospitalization days, 95% of all source case nosocomial infectiousness time, and most health care costs of tuberculosis patients pre-diagnosis.

Conclusions: The emergency department is heavily utilized by urban tuberculosis patients pre-diagnosis. Emergency department throughput of tuberculosis patients pre-diagnosis has major resource and outcome implications. The emergency department may present an opportunity for earlier diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Resources
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis / prevention & control
  • Urban Population