Tuberculosis (TB) is a major infection with nearly eight million cases annually worldwide. Although the majority of these cases are in the developing world, TB is also a problem in Canada.
To determine the cost of diagnosis and management of paediatric TB in Canada.
In-patients and out-patients at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, a tertiary care centre.
Patients were included if they had clinical or radiological evidence of TB infection with a positive tuberculin skin test or a positive culture result, and were treated from July 1, 1995, to June 30, 1996. Twenty-two patients met the criteria for inclusion in the study.
Patient characteristics, types of disease, types and numbers of investigations, number of in-patient days and out-patient appointments, course of TB treatment, TB-related complications and antimicrobial resistance were obtained from charts. Costs were derived from allocated hospital costs, Ontario Health Insurance Plan billings and costs provided by the Pharmacy Department at The Hospital for Sick Children.
The total cost for one year of management of paediatric TB in a tertiary care centre was $211,576. Pulmonary TB affected one-half of the study patients but accounted for one-quarter of the cost. One case of meningitis resulted in almost the same costs as all cases of pulmonary TB. Hospitalization was the largest contributor to overall cost, accounting for three-quarters of the total. The remaining costs in order of their contribution to overall costs were antimicrobial treatment, out-patient appointments, diagnostic imaging and TB cultures.
From a hospital’s perspective, the costs of managing each of the 22 patients was approximately $10,000. However, there was great variability between patients, with much greater costs for those who required hospitalization or numerous investigations because TB was not suspected. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first time that such a cost analysis has been performed for a paediatric population. A cost analysis provides a better measure of the burden of illness than is indicated by the absolute number of patients.