JOURNAL ARTICLE

Diagnosis and treatment delay among pulmonary tuberculosis patients identified using the Taiwan reporting enquiry system, 2002-2006

Hui-Ping Lin, Chung-Yeh Deng, Pesus Chou
BMC Public Health 2009, 9: 55
19216733

BACKGROUND: The tuberculosis reporting enquiry system was launched in Taiwan in 2001. Tuberculosis has been categorized as the third most important notifiable disease in Taiwan and the time required for reporting has been shortened to 7 days.

METHODS: A total of 114,827 cases were reported using the Taiwan enquiry system between 2002 and 2006; of these, 26,027 (22.7%) were finally diagnosed as not being tuberculosis, 7,005 (8.2%) were diagnosed as extra-pulmonary tuberculosis and 3,677 (3.2%) were not a first-time diagnosis of tuberculosis, and these cases were hence excluded. Diagnosis time was defined as the length of time between the first medical examination (including chest radiography, sputum smear or sputum culture) to the diagnosis of PTB; treatment time was defined as the period from the diagnosis of PTB to the initiation of treatment. Using the cut-off at the 75th percentile, a period of longer than 9 days was defined as a diagnosis delay and a period of longer than 2 days as a treatment delay. Multiple logistic regression analysis was applied to analyze the risk factors associated with these delays.

RESULTS: During the five-year study period, among the 78,118 new PTB patients reported in Taiwan, the mean diagnosis and treatment times were 12 and 5 days and the median times 1 day and 0 days, respectively. In total, 24.9% of the new PTB patients' diagnosis time delays were longer than 9 days and 20.3% of the patients' treatment time delays were longer than 2 days. The main factors associated with diagnosis delay included age, reporting year, living with family and a positive sputum culture (p < 0.0001); the risk factors significantly associated with treatment delay were increased age, an aboriginal ethnic background, a positive sputum culture and diagnosis at a non-medical center (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSION: The Taiwan TB reporting enquiry system has successfully increased the confirmed PTB reporting rate from 64.4% to 71.5%. Greater age and a positive sputum culture were both found to significantly increase both diagnosis and treatment delays; treatment delay is also significantly affected by the patient having an aboriginal ethnic background and being diagnosed at a non-medical center.

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