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Kekkaku. 2003 Sep;78(9):573-80.

[The importance of the examination of, education on, and infection control of tuberculosis in medical school hospitals in Japan].

[Article in Japanese]

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  • 1Fourth Department of Internal Medicine, Nippon Medical School, 1-1-5, Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8602, Japan.


Since the incidence of tuberculosis (TB) has markedly decreased over the last half-century, dedicated TB hospitals in Japan have been reducing the beds or have been merging with other hospitals. In accordance with this situation, less than 30% of medical school hospitals (MSHs) have facilities for infectious TB patients. In the meantime, and contrary to the previous trend, elderly TB patients or those who have serious underlying diseases have been increasing. MSHs have therefore not only to take care of these patients, but at the same time they have to reform their TB education system in addition to upgrading TB infection control. To elucidate the current problem regarding TB in MSHs, the survey in the current study was performed for 80 MSHs in Japan in January 2002. Two sets of questionnaires were prepared and delivered to doctors in these hospitals. One set mainly asked about the status of TB examination and education, and was aimed at doctors in the division of respiratory diseases of the department of internal medicine (Rs); and the other mainly asked about the status of TB infection control and was aimed at doctors in the divisions of infectious diseases, or whoever in charge of hospital infection control (Is). Response rates from Rs and Is were 75.0% (60/80) and 65.0% (52/80), respectively. Seventy-three point three percent (44/60) of Rs and 73.1% (38/52) of Is were working in hospitals without TB beds. Because of the current incidence of TB, the number of TB patients they examined in a year was small (35/60 of hospitals examined less than 20 TB patients in a year). Although there were some experienced doctors on TB in each hospital, most MSHs had only a small number of experienced nurses. Nevertheless, 89.3% of doctors in MSHs (a total of 100/112 Rs and Is) believed that they required TB rooms exclusively for TB patients who have some underlying diseases, and for TB education. Regarding the role of MSHs for TB patients care, the majority of doctors (70.5% of Rs and 68.4% of Is) considered MSHs should be able to offer treatment to TB patients with underlying complications. As to the educational aspect, most medical schools (MSs) devoted little time to lectures on TB (the median was 1 to 1.5 hour); on the other hand, some MSs (31.8%: 14/44 of MSHs without TB rooms) included a clinical practices in TB hospitals for TB education, although its term was short. Regarding TB infection control issues, most of the MSHs had active infection control committees in their hospitals and TB was thought to be one of the most important targets for these committees. About 40% (20/51) of these hospitals over the past few years had experienced nosocomial TB infection due in part to the so called "Doctor's delay". As one of the strategies to prevent nosocomial TB infection, special education sessions, not only for staff and residents but also students, were therefore performed in 60.8% (31/51) of MSHs. As to the evaluation of the tuberculin skin test (TST) status of medical students, the two-step TST was performed in 47.1% (24/51) of MSs (as most Japanese underwent their BCG vaccination in their childhood) and 54.9% (28/51) of MSs had a BCG revaccination policy for TST negative students. Although steps toward reforms in TB issues in MSHs were slow, some minor progress had been made as compared with previous surveys performed by us and others. Even though the numbers of TB patients examined in MSHs have been smaller than before, MHSs still have to take care of some TB patients with some complications. A great deal of effort still needs to be expended to establish efficient and effective TB education and infection control systems. Even though many ideas have been put forward to improve the current situation, one of the most successful answers is to set up small number of special rooms, not only for TB patients but also for other airborne infectious diseases, in all MHSs. The other clue is to establish an intimate collaboration between MSHs and TB hospitals with regard to clinical TB education not only for medical students but also for medical staff.

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