Controlling tuberculosis in an urban emergency department: a rapid decision instrument for patient isolation

Am J Public Health. 1997 Sep;87(9):1543-7. doi: 10.2105/ajph.87.9.1543.


Objectives: This study examined whether data routinely available in emergency departments could be used to improve isolation decisions for tuberculosis patients.

Methods: In a large emergency department in New York City, we compared the exposure histories of tuberculosis culture-positive and culture-negative patients and used these data to develop a rapid decision instrument to predict culture-positive tuberculosis. The screen used only data that are routinely available to emergency physicians.

Results: The method had high sensitivity (.96) and moderate specificity (.54).

Conclusions: The method is easily adaptable for a broad range of settings and illustrates the potential benefits of applying basic epidemiologic methods in a clinical setting.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New York City
  • Patient Isolation*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / prevention & control*
  • Urban Health Services