J Korean Med Sci.  2019 Nov;34(43):e270. 10.3346/jkms.2019.34.e270.

Delays in Isolating Patients Admitted to Hospital with Pulmonary Tuberculosis in Korea

  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seongnam, Korea. hbkimmd@snu.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Delays in isolating patients admitted to hospital with active pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) can contribute to nosocomial transmission; however, in Korea, patients with clinically diagnosed PTB are not routinely isolated while awaiting microbiological confirmation of the diagnosis. We aimed to assess the extent of delays in isolating patients admitted with PTB and to identify the factors associated with delayed isolation.
We retrospectively reviewed the electronic medical records of patients aged ≥ 18 years with active PTB, between January 2008 and December 2017, from two Korean hospitals.
Among 1,062 patients, 612 (57.6%) were not isolated on admission day. The median time from admission to isolation was 1 day (interquartile range: 0-2 days). The independent risk factor most strongly associated with delayed isolation was admission to departments other than pulmonology or infectious diseases departments (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 5.302; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.177-8.847; P < 0.001). Factors associated with isolation on admission day were a past history of tuberculosis (TB) (aOR, 0.669; 95% CI, 0.494-0.906; P = 0.009), night sweats (aOR, 0.530; 95% CI, 0.330-0.851; P = 0.009), and apical infiltrates on chest radiographs (aOR, 0.452; 95% CI, 0.276-0.740; P = 0.002).
Concerning patients subsequently diagnosed with active PTB, > 50% were not isolated on admission day. We suggest that the patients with clinically suspected PTB including the elderly who have a past history of TB, night sweats, or apical infiltration on chest radiographs, be presumptively isolated on admission, without waiting for microbiological confirmation of the diagnosis.


Pulmonary Tuberculosis; Isolation; Transmission
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