Public health costs for tuberculosis suspects in Wake County, North Carolina, United States.
SETTING: As the incidence of tuberculosis (TB) declines in high-income countries, resources to control TB are also declining. A portion of these resources are utilized for the evaluation and treatment of persons initially suspected of, but who do not actually have, TB (TB suspects). OBJECTIVE: To describe the cost of TB suspects to public health departments, and determine whether part of this cost can be averted using improved diagnostic tools. DESIGN: We evaluated resource utilization for all TB suspects as well as a random sample of TB cases managed at the Wake County public health clinic during 2008-2010. The proportion of total health department costs attributable to TB suspects was estimated. A sensitivity analysis assessed the potential impact of a rapid, accurate diagnostic test to avert suspect-associated costs. RESULTS: Of 135 patients evaluated for TB, 36 (27%) were suspects, accounting for 14% (US5,885) of the total estimated costs for managing all patients. A perfect diagnostic test with a 3-day turnaround would have averted US27,975 (53%) of the costs attributable to suspects. CONCLUSION: A substantial proportion of public health resources is utilized to manage persons whose final diagnosis is not TB. Efficient implementation of novel rapid tests could avert substantial public health costs.
Park, PH; Holland, DP; Wade, A; Goswami, ND; Bissette, D; Stout, JE
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