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Open Access Research article

Delayed Treatment of Diagnosed Pulmonary Tuberculosis in Taiwan

Jimmy PS Chern12, Duan-Rung Chen245* and Tzai-Hung Wen3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Family Medicine, Tao-Yuan General Hospital, Taiwan

2 Institute of Health Care Organization Administration, College of Public Health, National Taiwan University, Taiwan

3 Institute of Epidemiology, College of Public Health, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

4 Associate Professor, Graduate Institute of Health Care Organization Administration, College of Public Health, National Taiwan University, Taiwan

5 R636, Building of Public Health, No.17 Xu-Zhou Road, Taipei, 10020 Taiwan

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:236  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-236

Published: 13 July 2008

Abstract

Background

Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection is an ongoing public health problem in Taiwan. The National Tuberculosis Registry Campaign, a case management system, was implemented in 1997. This study examined this monitoring system to identify and characterize delayed treatment of TB patients.

Methods

Records of all tuberculosis cases treated in Taiwan from 2002 through 2005 were obtained from the National Tuberculosis Registry Campaign. Initiation of treatment more than 7 days after diagnosis was considered a long treatment delay.

Results

The study included 31,937 patients. The mean day of delayed treatment was 3.6 days. Most patients were treated immediately after diagnosis. The relationship between number of TB patients and days of delayed treatment after diagnosis exhibited a Power-law distribution. The long tail of the power-law distribution indicated that an extreme number occur cannot be neglected. Tuberculosis patients treated after an unusually long delay require close observation and follow up.

Conclusion

This study found that TB control is generally acceptabl in Taiwan; however, delayed treatment increases the risk of transmission. Improving the protocol for managing confirmed TB cases can minimize disease transmission.