Impact of radiology reports on timely tuberculosis diagnosis.
PURPOSE: As tuberculosis becomes less common in higher income countries, clinician familiarity with the disease is declining. Little is known about how chest radiograph interpretations affect tuberculosis care. We sought to determine how tuberculosis-related terminology in an initial chest radiograph reading impacted patient care. STUDY DESIGN: We examined a retrospective cohort of patients with pulmonary tuberculosis in North Carolina from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2014. Tuberculosis-related terminology was categorised into four mutually exclusive categories. The primary outcomes of interest were the time from the chest radiograph to (1) obtaining the first sputum specimen for acid-fast smear and mycobacterial culture, and (2) initiation of antituberculous treatment. RESULTS: Of 550 available chest radiograph reports, 175 (31.8%) contained the word 'tuberculosis', 30 (5.5%) contained the word 'mycobacteria' or 'granulomatous', 43 (7.8%) contained the word 'cavity', and 301 (54.7%) had none of the above terms mentioned. Patients with the word 'tuberculosis' in the radiology report had a significantly shorter time to collection of the initial sputum specimen for acid-fast smear and mycobacterial culture (median 2 days) and to the start of antituberculous treatment (median 4 days) than patients with none of the keywords. Use of the term 'cavity' in the report was associated with a shorter time to initiation of antituberculous treatment (median 4 days) than if none of the keywords were used. CONCLUSION: Chest radiograph reports that contained keywords for pulmonary tuberculosis, such as 'tuberculosis' or 'cavity', were associated with less time to collection of sputum and antituberculous treatment.
Dicks, KV; Holland, DP; Allen, MG; Fortenberry, ER; Luffman, J; Zeringue, E; Wheeler, J; Stout, JE
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