Time to initiation of anti-tuberculosis treatment

Tuber Lung Dis. 1996 Oct;77(5):401-6. doi: 10.1016/s0962-8479(96)90111-2.


Setting: Fairfield Hospital, Victoria, Australia.

Objective: To examine delay in initiation of treatment for tuberculosis (TB).

Design: Delay in the initiation of treatment for 142 notified TB patients was examined by a retrospective record review. Particular attention was given to the periods between (1) onset of symptoms and initiation of treatment, and (2) determination of sputum positivity and initiation of treatment. An expert panel nominated 30 days and 3 days as 'acceptable' periods for (1) and (2), respectively.

Results: Only 31% of patients commenced treatment within 30 days of onset of symptoms. This was so for both sputum smear-positive and negative cases, and was not significantly related to the site of infection, referral source, age, gender or ethnicity of the patient. Of patients with smear-positive pulmonary TB, 86% received treatment within 3 days of this result being demonstrated. Those with a delay of greater than 3 days were all investigated by private doctors through private laboratories.

Conclusion: There are appreciable delays in initiation of treatment for TB. Measures to combat these unacceptable delays are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antitubercular Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / isolation & purification
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sputum / microbiology
  • Time Factors
  • Tuberculosis / drug therapy*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / drug therapy


  • Antitubercular Agents