Evaluating a framework for tuberculosis screening among healthcare workers in clinical settings, Inner Mongolia, China
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Evaluating a framework for tuberculosis screening among healthcare workers in clinical settings, Inner Mongolia, China

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  • Alternative Title:
    J Occup Med Toxicol
  • Description:

    Health care workers are at high risk for tuberculosis (TB). China, a high burden TB country, has no policy on medical surveillance for TB among healthcare workers. In this paper, we evaluate whether China’s national TB diagnostic guidelines could be used as a framework to screen healthcare workers for pulmonary TB disease in a clinical setting in China.


    Between April–August 2010, healthcare workers from 28 facilities in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China were eligible for TB screening, comprised of symptom check, chest X-ray and tuberculin skin testing. Healthcare workers were categorized as having presumptive, confirmed, or clinically-diagnosed pulmonary TB, using Chinese national guidelines.


    All healthcare workers (N=4347) were eligible for TB screening, of which 4285 (99%) participated in at least one TB screening test. Of the healthcare workers screened, 2% had cough for ≥ 14 days, 3% had a chest X-ray consistent with TB, and 10% had a tuberculin skin test induration ≥ 20 mm. Of these, 124 healthcare workers were identified with presumptive TB (i.e., cough for ≥ 14 days in the past 4 weeks or x-ray consistent with TB). Twelve healthcare workers met the case definition for clinically-diagnosed pulmonary TB, but none were diagnosed with TB during the study period.


    A substantial proportion of healthcare workers in Inner Mongolia had signs, symptoms, or test results suggestive of TB disease that could have been identified using national TB diagnostic guidelines as a screening framework. However, achieving medical surveillance in China will require a framework that increases the ease, accuracy, and acceptance of TB screening in the medical community. Routine screening with improved diagnostics should be considered to detect tuberculosis disease among healthcare workers and reduce transmission in health care settings in China.

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