Setting: Division of respiratory medicine in a specialised infectious disease hospital in Rome, Italy.
Objective: Retrospective evaluation of tuberculosis (TB) care associated costs in an integrated in- and out-patient management programme.
Design: Review of the medical records of 92 human immunodeficiency virus negative TB cases admitted between September 2000 and May 2003.
Results: Length of in-hospital stay (45 +/- 35 days) was the major cost determinant, as hospitalisation accounted for almost 80% of the total costs of the case, with fixed bed-per-day charges amounting to 76% of hospital costs. Factors associated with higher costs were chest X-ray score, fever, sputum bacterial load and multidrug resistance (P < 0.05). Cure/treatment completion was achieved in 82% of patients entering the out-patient programme (63% of all cases). Homelessness, age and comorbidities were associated with unfavourable outcomes.
Conclusions: A closely followed hospital-centred protocol carried out in a high-resource setting may produce acceptable cure/completion treatment rates. As a too high fraction of resources invested in TB control goes toward hospital costs, out-patient treatment strategies should be implemented.