Author(s): Hooi LN
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Abstract The process of case-finding was studied in 100 consecutive patients with pulmonary tuberculosis treated by the Chest Clinic, Penang Hospital. The median time from the onset of the illness until the initial medical consultation was two weeks (patient's delay). This delay was longer in males, patients with lower than secondary education and drug abusers. Only 47\% of patients were put on treatment with a correct diagnosis within one month of the first consultation (doctor's delay). Almost all patients had at least one symptom suggestive of tuberculosis at presentation and the mean number of consultations before diagnosis was three. Patients who first visited government medical facilities had shorter doctor's delay than those who first saw private practitioners, and patients who first consulted a private practitioner were the least likely to be appropriately investigated by sputum examination and chest radiography. The median total delay was three months and at the time of diagnosis, 95\% of patients had moderate or far advanced disease radiologically. In order to shorten doctor's delay, all medical practitioners, especially those in the private sector, should be made aware of the importance of early diagnosis and the proper management of tuberculosis. Health education campaigns for the public should also be undertaken to shorten patient's delay.
This article was published in Med J Malaysia
and referenced in Journal of Health Education Research & Development