Medical Practice

Diagnosis of Tuberculosis in a General Hospital

Br Med J 1971; 4 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.4.5787.610 (Published 04 December 1971) Cite this as: Br Med J 1971;4:610
  1. B. H. R. Stack

    Abstract

    In a survey of 71 new cases of tuberculosis diagnosed in a general hospital the average interval between admission and diagnosis of tuberculosis (the diagnostic interval) ranged between 10 days for intrathoracic tuberculosis and 20 days for genitourinary tuberculosis. The average diagnostic interval was 10·9 days when tuberculosis was included in the initial differential diagnosis, and 22·8 days when other diagnoses were made. Undue delay in diagnosis occurred in 17 patients (24%). In eight this was due to failure to include tuberculosis in the initial differential diagnosis. Earlier diagnosis might have saved three of the five patients who died.

    In 21 patients (30%) a history of predisposing factors or associated illness was obtained. Ten of these had suffered from previous tuberculosis.

    The vital factor in diagnosis of tuberculosis in general hospital patients is consideration of this condition in the diagnosis of any unexplained illness, especially where a history of previous tuberculosis or a recognized predisposing factor is obtained.

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