Open Access Research article

Delayed diagnosis and associated factors among new pulmonary tuberculosis patients diagnosed at the emergency department of a tertiary care hospital in Porto Alegre, South Brazil: a prospective patient recruitment study

Gracieli Nadalon Deponti*, Denise Rossato Silva, Ana Cláudia Coelho, Alice Mânica Muller and Paulo de Tarso Roth Dalcin

Author Affiliations

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Pneumológicas da UFRGS, Serviço de Pneumologia, Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre (HCPA), Porto Alegre, Brazil

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2013, 13:538  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-538

Published: 13 November 2013

Abstract

Background

Control of tuberculosis (TB) depends on early diagnosis and treatment at the primary health care level. However, many patients are still diagnosed late with TB at hospitals. The present study aimed to investigate the delay in diagnosis of TB patients at the emergency department.

Methods

This was a prospective study in a general, tertiary care, university-affiliated hospital of a city with a high prevalence of TB in Brazil. New TB patients ≥ 14 years diagnosed with pulmonary TB at the emergency department of Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre were prospectively recruited between February 2010 and January 2012. The consenting patients meeting our inclusion criteria were interviewed using a pre-tested questionnaire. We evaluated the delay in time until diagnosis and identified factors associated with delayed diagnosis (patient and health care system delays).

Results

We included 153 patients. The median total time of delay, patient delay, and health care system delay were 60 (interquartile range [IQR]: 30–90.5 days), 30 (lQR: 7–60 days), and 18 (IQR: 9–39.5 days) days, respectively. The factors that were independently associated with patient delay (time ≥ 30 days) were crack (odds ratio [OR] = 4.88, p = 0.043) and cocaine (OR = 6.68, p = 0.011) use. The factors that were independently associated with health care system delay (time ≥ 18 days) were weight loss (OR = 2.76, p = 0.025), miliary pattern (OR = 5.33, p = 0.032), and fibrotic changes (OR = 0.12, p = 0.013) on chest X-ray.

Conclusions

Patient delay appears to be the main problem in this city with a high prevalence of TB in Brazil. The main factor associated with patient delay is drug abuse (crack and cocaine). Our study shows substance abuse programs need to be aware of control of TB, with health interventions focusing on TB education programs.

Keywords:
Tuberculosis; Risk factors; Patient delay; Health care system delay; Diagnosis