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Clinical Investigations: TUBERCULOSIS |

Errors in the Treatment of Tuberculosis in Baltimore*

Sudeep N. Rao, MBBS, MPH; Anuradha L. Mookerjee, MD, MS, MPH; Olugbenga O. Obasanjo, MD, PhD; Richard E. Chaisson, MD
Author and Funding Information

Affiliations: *From the Center for Tuberculosis Research, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.,  Present address: University of Mississippi Medical Center, Department of Medicine, 2500 N State St, Jackson, MS 39216-4505.

Correspondence to: Richard E. Chaisson, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 1830 E Monument St, Room 445, Baltimore, MD 21287-0003; e-mail: rchaiss@jhmi.edu



Chest. 2000;117(3):734-737. doi:10.1378/chest.117.3.734
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Background: Incomplete or incorrect antibiotic therapy, especially in the initial phase of antituberculosis (anti-TB) treatment, is a major cause of acquired drug resistance and treatment failure. We determined the extent of errors in anti-TB treatment regimens by way of nonadherence to recommended treatment protocols among patients with TB in Baltimore, MD, a city with declining rates of disease. An error was defined as using too few drugs or the wrong drugs, giving inadequate doses of drugs, or prescribing an inadequate duration of treatment.

Methods: We reviewed the records of all patients with culture-positive, pulmonary TB reported in the city of Baltimore from January 1, 1994, to December 31, 1995. We determined demographic information, initial anti-TB regimen, doses and duration of therapy, history or presence of resistance to anti-TB drugs, injecting-drug or alcohol abuse, HIV status, and whether treatment was given by a private physician or by the Tuberculosis Clinic of the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD).

Results: Of the 110 cases of active pulmonary TB, 17 cases (15.4%) had errors in treatment for control of their current disease. Thirteen of 34 privately treated patients (38%) had some error in their initial anti-TB regimen, compared with 4 of 76 patients (5.2%) treated by the Tuberculosis Clinic of the BCHD (p < 0.0001). Patients were otherwise similar as determined by age, sex, HIV status, drug-resistance characteristics, and injecting-drug use, regardless of whether they had erroneous anti-TB regimens.

Conclusion: In a low-prevalence area, private physicians make frequent errors in prescribing anti-TB therapy. Additional educational resources for physicians and increased use of expert consultation may contribute to improved TB control.


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