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- The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Delays and Pathways to Final Tuberculosis Diagnosis in Patients from a Referral Hospital in Urban China
China is among the countries with the largest epidemic of drug susceptible and resistant tuberculosis globally. We investigated the locations tuberculosis patients visited before being diagnosed, total diagnostic delay, and risk factors associated with total delay from a large tuberculosis referral hospital in Nanjing, China. We conducted a retrospective cohort study among tuberculosis patients who initiated anti‐tuberculosis treatment within 3 months prior to the study date. Patient information regarding time and locations visited while seeking care for tuberculosis‐related symptoms was collected through face‐to‐face interviews. Crude and adjusted Cox proportional hazard ratios of factors associated with time to diagnosis were calculated. Of 179 bacteriologically confirmed patients, 37% were women and median age was 41 (interquartile range [IQR], 26–62). Public hospitals were the most commonly visited health‐care institution and repeated visits to them were common. The mean days to tuberculosis diagnosis were 50.3. Female patients (hazard ratio [HR], 1.29; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04–1.48) or patients who contacted a health‐care provider 2 weeks after becoming symptomatic (HR, 1.59; 95% CI, 1.43–1.70) were significantly less likely to have a timely diagnosis. In a referral hospital in urban China, we found that female tuberculosis patients took significantly more time to reach diagnosis than males and patients often cycled in public hospitals for multiple visits before reaching final diagnosis. Health professionals at public hospitals in Nanjing should be encouraged to refer potential tuberculosis patients as soon as possible to avoid nosocomial transmission.