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Free Content False-positive growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis attributable to laboratory contamination confirmed by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis

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SETTING: Despite the high prevalence of tuberculosis in Korea, false-positive cultures have not yet been reported. At Pusan National University Hospital, in which positive mycobacterial culture specimens were 2.8 daily on average, 12 specimens from 10 patients requested on the same day were positive for Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

OBJECTIVE: To identify an episode of laboratory cross-contamination in a tertiary care hospital.

DESIGN: All isolates were analyzed by restriction fragment length polymorphism, and patientsÕ medical records were reviewed.

RESULTS: All isolates from 10 patients with supposed cross-contamination were identical. Anti-tuberculosis drugs were administered to two patients unnecessarily, resulting in adverse drug reactions in one patient. In one patient who had known tuberculous empyema, the medication course was probably lengthened unnecessarily.

CONCLUSIONS: An episode of laboratory cross-contamination in mycobacterial cultures occurred, possibly due to droplets splashed from a sample in a centrifuge tube. Consequently, the aerosol soiled the tip of the dispenser and contaminated the following specimens sequentially. This episode of laboratory cross-contamination resulted in some modifications in our methods of specimen processing and interpretation of the results.
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Keywords: Mycobacterium tuberculosis; RFLP analysis; false positive growth; laboratory contamination

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Department of Clinical Pathology, College of Medicine, Pusan National University, Pusan, Korea 2: Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Pusan National University, Pusan, Korea 3: Department of Orthopedic Surgery, College of Medicine, Pusan National University, Pusan, Korea 4: Department of Clinical Pathology, College of Medicine, Catholic University of Daegu, Daegu, Korea

Publication date: 2001-09-01

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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