April 29, 2003
In the study, Rodger, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues analyzed data on TB cases collected by doctors in 1999-2000, and from a national survey conducted in 1998. They found that among 853 TB patients living in London, the delay between symptoms and diagnosis ranged from 14 to 103 days. The delay was longer than 49 days for half of the patients -- a finding consistent with those from other large cities in industrialized countries, the researchers noted. Their full report, "Delay in the Diagnosis of Pulmonary Tuberculosis, London, 1998-2000: Analysis of Surveillance Data," was published in the April 26 issue of the British Medical Journal (2003:326;909-910).
"We don't know whether the observed delays in diagnosis are due to patient delay in reporting symptoms or to a failure of GPs to recognize them," said Rodger.
The average delay in diagnosis among white patients was 72 days, compared with 43 days among all other ethnic groups. The delay was also significantly higher for women (72 days) than men (61 days). "This might be because TB may be suspected or investigated more readily among men or black or Asian people," the researchers wrote. In addition, physicians could be less likely to think about a TB diagnosis in women, Rodger said.
04.25.03; John Griffiths
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