Deaths from tuberculosis (TB) continue to occur despite the availability of effective antimicrobial agents. Multidrug resistance, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, and delayed therapy have been implicated.
To examine clinical factors associated with in-hospital death in patients with active TB.
A retrospective case-control study was performed on patients admitted to a government hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, used as a referral center for patients with TB. Eighty patients admitted with TB who died during hospitalization were matched with 80 similar patients with TB who survived hospitalization. Clinical, demographic, and radiological characteristics of each group were compared.
In-hospital fatalities were associated with female sex (P=.01), lower admission hemoglobin level (P<.01), and weight (P<.01), and a trend to more extensive infiltrative patterns on chest radiographs. Multidrug resistance, extrapulmonary disease, and HIV infection were unexpectedly not related to in-hospital mortality. High mortality in the first weeks of admission suggested that late presentation was a major factor for in-hospital death. The HIV-infected participants in the study showed less drug resistance than HIV-negative patients (P=.07), equivalent extents of infiltrative patterns on chest radiographs, but much less cavitation and fibrosis (P<.01).
Clinical predictors of early mortality from TB included anemia, low body weight, and extensive infiltrates, while multidrug resistance and HIV infection were not significant factors. Previous exposure to TB and delayed presentation may have influenced our findings. Since patients present late in their illness, aggressive case finding would be important in controlling TB in this population.