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Free Content Outcome of patients with tuberculosis who transfer between reporting units in Malawi

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SETTING: All 43 non-private hospitals in Malawi which in 1999 registered and treated patients with tuberculosis (TB).

OBJECTIVE: To determine the proportion of TB patients who transferred from one reporting unit to another and their treatment outcome, and to compare outcome results between the main TB register and the transfer-in register.

DESIGN: Retrospective data collection, using the main TB register and transfer-in register, on all patients registered in Malawi in 1999.

RESULTS: There were 24908 patients, of whom 3249 (13%) in total were transfers. Significantly more patients transferred from mission hospitals (23%) compared with central (8%) or district (5%) hospitals (P < 0.001). The date of transfer was recorded for 1406 patients, of whom 1170 (83%) transferred in the first 10 weeks. Respectively 45% and 58% of transfer patients had unknown outcomes in the main TB register and transfer-in register; these rates were significantly lower in smear-positive pulmonary TB (PTB) patients. A total of 1357 patients were entered into transfer-in registers; 694 patients had matched names and/or registration numbers in both registers. Of the matched patients, 373 (54%) had similar treatment outcomes.

CONCLUSION: It is common for patients to transfer between treatment units, but the quality of the data for patients who transfer is poor, and needs to be improved.
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Keywords: Malawi; transfer-in; transfer-out; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands 2: National Tuberculosis Control Programme, Ministry of Health, Lilongwe, Malawi

Publication date: 01 August 2002

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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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