Setting: The main university hospital in Iasi, Romania.
Objective: To assess whether health care workers (HCWs) have a higher risk of acquiring tuberculosis (TB) than the general population, and if TB incidence varies between departments, to develop adequate infection control measures.
Design: All records of TB cases among HCWs were reviewed by cross-checking laboratory and medical records (retrospectively, 1971--1996; prospectively 1997--2003, following the implementation of the first World Health Organization pilot project in Romania). Annual TB incidence rates among HCWs were calculated and compared with those of the general population; relative and attributable risk with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated.
Results: Fifty TB cases were diagnosed in HCWs; 42% were nurses, 24% ancillary staff, 12% physicians, 10% laboratory staff, 10% administrative staff and 2% radiology technicians. The mean incidence of TB in Romania during the study period was 96.8 per 100,000 persons/year (95%CI 83.5-110.1); the mean incidence among HCWs was 942.8/100,000 persons/year (95%CI 726.3-1159.3, P < 0.001); comparing the two previous absolute risks, the mean relative risk was 11 (95%CI 8-14) and the attributable risk 846.
Conclusion: TB is a major occupational hazard in Iasi, Romania, where a great potential exists for further development of an effective infection control plan.