Early tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment are determinants of better outcomes and effective disease control. Although tuberculosis should ideally be managed in a primary care setting, a proportion of patients are diagnosed in emergency facilities (EFs). We sought to describe patient characteristics by place of tuberculosis diagnosis and determine whether the place of diagnosis is associated with treatment outcomes. A secondary objective was to determine whether municipal indicators are associated with the probability of tuberculosis diagnosis in EFs.
We analyzed data from the São Paulo State Tuberculosis Control Program database for the period between January of 2010 and December of 2013. Newly diagnosed patients over 15 years of age with pulmonary, extrapulmonary, or disseminated tuberculosis were included in the study. Multiple logistic regression models adjusted for potential confounders were used in order to evaluate the association between place of diagnosis and treatment outcomes.
Of a total of 50,295 patients, 12,696 (25%) were found to have been diagnosed in EFs. In comparison with the patients who had been diagnosed in an outpatient setting, those who had been diagnosed in EFs were younger and more socially vulnerable. Patients diagnosed in EFs were more likely to have unsuccessful treatment outcomes (adjusted OR: 1.54; 95% CI: 1.42-1.66), including loss to follow-up and death. At the municipal level, the probability of tuberculosis diagnosis in EFs was associated with low primary care coverage, inequality, and social vulnerability. In some municipalities, more than 50% of the tuberculosis cases were diagnosed in EFs.
In the state of São Paulo, one in every four tuberculosis patients is diagnosed in EFs, a diagnosis of tuberculosis in EFs being associated with poor treatment outcomes. At the municipal level, an EF diagnosis of tuberculosis is associated with structural and socioeconomic indicators, indicating areas for improvement.