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Tuberculosis in healthcare workers.

Colleagues from the University of KwaZulu-Natal report the experience of 62 doctors in whom tuberculosis (TB) was diagnosed between 2007 and 2009. [7] Eighty per cent had pulmonary TB (multidrug-resistant in 4) and the remainder extrapulmonary disease. None had worked in TB clinics or wards but rather in general ward and clinic settings.

In only half was the diagnosis made on initial presentation. Some went on--unnecessarily--to computed tomography (CT) scans, upper oesophagoscopy (in a colleague complaining of dysphagia), lung function testing, bronchoscopy, tissue biopsy (of pleura, lymph node and lung), magnetic resonance imaging scans and CT angiograms, and ran into complications following invasive tests.

A third of the respondents considered defaulting on their treatment because of drug side-effects. While personal illness experiences rendered them more empathic with respect to their own TB patients, one colleague regretted entering the high-risk clinical arena and opted instead for laboratory work. The majority reported lack of infection control in the workplace and unhelpful attitudes of senior medical colleagues and administrators: 'Our own colleagues and our management show[ed] an uncaring attitude towards us!'.

See also the Izindaba article 'One doctor's misfortune boosts TB treatment activism'. [8]

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Title Annotation:Editor's Choice
Author:Seggie, Janet
Publication:South African Medical Journal
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:6SOUT
Date:Mar 1, 2013
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