SETTING: A sample survey of knowledge about prescribing tuberculosis treatment among private physicians in the city of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. OBJECTIVES: To study the anti-tuberculosis regimens prescribed by private physicians and to assess the number of tuberculosis patients treated by them. DESIGN: Questionnaire survey of a random sample of 401 private physicians in Santa Cruz. RESULTS: Of the 401 physicians, 165 (41%) could not be located or did not want to participate. Among the 236 completed questionnaires, 137 physicians (58%) stated that they did not see patients with tuberculosis, 16 (7%) referred them to other centres and 83 (35%) treated them in their practice. Among 80 prescribed regimens that could be evaluated there were 58 different regimens: 17 (21%) followed the National Tuberculosis Control Programme's standard regimen, but overall 35 regimens (60%) were incorrect—18 regimens (31%) were non-curative and 17 (29%) could not be recommended. Frequent errors were the prescription of medications not available in the market (7%) or not included in the national regimen (34%), the prescription of insufficient medications (9%), or of only one in the continuation phase (16%), or for too short (9%), or too long (12%) a period. Eighty physicians estimated that they attended in their practice an average total of 404 patients with tuberculosis per month. CONCLUSIONS: A significant number of physicians in private practice did not adhere to the standard norms for prescribing anti-tuberculosis treatment. This study also suggests that in the city of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, there is a not insignificant number of patients with tuberculosis treated outside the National Tuberculosis Control Programme.
German Leprosy Relief Association (DAHW), Santa Cruz, Bolivia 2:
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Maternal and Child Epidemiology Unit, London, UK 3:
Universidad Católica Boliviana, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Publication date: January 1, 1999
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