Background: Tuberculosis (TB) is an established occupational disease affecting health care workers (HCWs). Determining the risk of TB among HCWs is important to enable authorites to take preventative measures in health care facilities and protect HCWs. This study was designed to assess the incidence of TB in a teaching hospital in Istanbul, Turkey. A retrospective study of health records of HCWs in our hospital from 1991 to 2000.
Results: The mean workforce of the hospital was 3359 + 33.2 between 1991 and 2000. There were 31 cases (15 male) meeting the diagnostic criteria for TB, comprising eight doctors, one nurse and 22 other health professionals. Mean incidence of TB was 96 per 100,000 for all HCWs (relative risk: 2.71), 79 per 100,000 for doctors (relative risk: 2.2), 14 per 100,000 for nurses and 121 per 100,000 (relative risk: 3.4) for other professionals. The mean incidence of TB in Turkey between 1991 and 2000 was 35.4 per 100,000. Incidence of TB was similar in the Departments of Chest Diseases and Clinical Medicine but there were no TB cases in the Basic Science and Managerial Departments.
Conclusion: HCWs in Turkey who work in clinics have an increased risk for TB. Post-graduate education and prevention programs reduce the risk of TB. Control programs to prevent nosocomial transmission of TB should be established in hospitals to reduce risk for HCWs.