Hospitalization is the most costly health system component of tuberculosis (TB) control programs. Our objectives were to identify how frequently patients are hospitalized, and the factors associated with hospitalizations and length-of-stay (LOS) of TB patients in a large Canadian city.
We extracted data from the Montreal TB Resource database, a retrospective cohort of all active TB cases reported to the Montreal Public Health Department between January 1996 and May 2007. Data included patient demographics, clinical characteristics, and dates of treatment and hospitalization. Predictors of hospitalization and LOS were estimated using logistic regression and Cox proportional hazards regression, respectively.
There were 1852 active TB patients. Of these, 51% were hospitalized initially during the period of diagnosis and/or treatment initiation (median LOS 17.5 days), and 9.0% hospitalized later during treatment (median LOS 13 days). In adjusted models, patients were more likely to be hospitalized initially if they were children, had co-morbidities, smear-positive symptomatic pulmonary TB, cavitary or miliary TB, and multi- or poly-TB drug resistance. Factors predictive of longer initial LOS included having HIV, renal disease, symptomatic pulmonary smear-positive TB, multi- or poly-TB drug resistance, and being in a teaching hospital.
We found a high hospitalization rate during diagnosis and treatment of patients with TB. Diagnostic delay due to low index of suspicion may result in patients presenting with more severe disease at the time of diagnosis. Earlier identification and treatment, through interventions to increase TB awareness and more targeted prevention programs, might reduce costly TB-related hospital use.