SETTING: Sixteen primary care health centres in Peru and Bolivia.
OBJECTIVES: To assess the utilisation of microscopy services in Peru and Bolivia and determine if clinical audit, a quality improvement tool, improves the utilisation of these services.
DESIGN: We estimated the percentage of patients with suspected tuberculosis (TB) in whom sputum microscopy was effectively utilised in Peru and Bolivia over two 6-month periods before and after a clinical audit intervention that included standards setting, measuring clinical performance and feedback.
RESULTS: Before the intervention, only 31% (95%CI 27-35) of TB suspects were assessed with sputum microscopy in Peru. In Bolivia, 30% (95%CI 25-35) underwent at least two sputum microscopy examinations. After clinical audit, the availability of sputum microscopy results improved by respectively 7% (95%CI 1-12, P
CONCLUSIONS: Despite World Health Organization recommendations that all TB suspects should undergo sputum microscopy before treatment, results are available for further assessment for only one third. This is a potentially serious obstacle to TB case detection. Clinical audit can bring some improvement. We recommend regular monitoring of effective utilisation of microscopy services and investigations to ascertain organisational and structural issues in their uptake and use.
International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (2007) 11 (6) 665-670