Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB, defined as resistance to at least both rifampicin and isoniazid) has become a serious problem in the United Kingdom. As it is uncommon, no one clinician has sufficient experience of it to be confident in providing the best management for the
patient. The model of a centralised system of management, such as is used in the Baltic countries, would seem a suitable method to adapt to the United Kingdom. With the agreement of the relevant professional organisations, a virtual electronic expert panel, the UK Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis
Service, has been developed. This body gives advice via a secure website on MDR-TB patients referred by e-mail by clinicians across the country managing MDR-TB cases. In the first 2 years of operation, advice was sought on 60 patients with culture-proven MDR-TB (54% of the UK total). The number
of clinicians accessing the advisory service increased from 27 in 2008 to 33 in 2009. Patients of non-UK origin accounted for 90% of all cases, including all four extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis cases. A central electronic virtual committee providing advice via a secure website has
proved to be practical, economical and efficient. It could provide a model for MDR-TB management in other countries and for the management of other uncommon diseases.
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Document Type: Research Article
Department of Respiratory Medicine, University Hospital North Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis Advisory Service, Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, Liverpool, UK
Publication date: 01 July 2012
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