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New MUHC study calls for targeted screening of high-risk healthcare workers for tuberculosis

Current strategy of annual screening in North America is expensive and ineffective

Jul 31, 2017

Montreal — Tuberculosis (TB) is a recognized hazard for healthcare workers, but the annual screening strategy currently in place in Canada and the United States is costly with very limited health benefits and should be reconsidered, according to a new study led by a team from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). The findings, published in the journal BMC Medicine, suggest health agencies in North America should consider switching to a targeted strategy focusing on high-risk healthcare workers only.

“The *background rate of TB in North American communities is much lower today than it was 25 years ago when there were epidemics of TB in cities across the United States. As such, the risk of healthcare workers being exposed and infected at work is also much lower,’’ says the study’s corresponding author Dr. Kevin Schwartzman, Director of the Respiratory Division at the MUHC and a professor of medicine at McGill University. “Our results suggest the annual TB screening protocol should be changed to reflect more accurately the epidemiology of TB in North America and potentially in other high-income countries, such as those in Northern Europe.’’ Read more