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False positives in TB diagnosis lead to real negatives for HIV patients
Date:5/16/2010

TB who do not actually have TB is also associated with negative outcomes."

Dr. Blount said the poorer outcomes are likely due to the fact that patients who are misdiagnosed are treated erroneously for tuberculosis while the actual underlying condition remains untreated. Because physicians believe tuberculosis is the culprit, any search for the real underlying disease is delayed, as is proper treatment, he said.

Dr. Blount said the study's results serve to caution physicians to continue monitoring patients who have been diagnosed with tuberculosis to ensure the treatment is working, and to reassess the diagnosis if patients are not improving.

"These results remind us as clinicians that diagnostic tests are not 100 percent accurate, and that falsely diagnosing patients with a disease who do not actually have that disease can lead to negative outcomes," he said. "We must continue to re-evaluate a patient's clinical progress. If he or she is not responding as predicted to treatment for a diagnosed disease, we must entertain alternative diagnoses."

Dr. Blount also noted the results indicate a need for further refinement of rapid diagnostic tests for tuberculosis.

"These rapid tests, however, are not always as sensitive or specific for determining if a person has TB," he said. "Further research should be focused on the development of more sensitive and specific TB diagnostic tests and the clinical impact of these new tests. Ideally, these tests should be affordable enough to be used in low-income countries, where the burden of tuberculosis is high."


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Contact: Keely Savoie
ksavoie@thoracic.org
212-315-8620
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

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