To describe persons with suspected (did not meet the national tuberculosis [TB] surveillance case definition) and noncounted TB (met the TB case definition but transferred and were counted by another jurisdiction) and estimate costs incurred by public health departments for managing them.
We reviewed TB registry, medical records, budgets, bills, salaries, organizational charts, and travel/activity logs from the year 2000 at health departments in New York City (NYC), three Texas (TX) counties (El Paso, Hidalgo, and Webb), and Massachusetts (MA). We also interviewed or observed personnel to estimate the time spent on activities for these patients
In 2000, NYC and MA had more persons with suspected (n = 2,996) and noncounted (n = 163) TB than with counted (n = 1,595) TB. TX counties had more persons with counted TB (n = 179) than with suspected (n = 55) and noncounted (n = 15) TB. Demographic and clinical characteristics varied widely. For persons with suspected TB, NYC spent an estimated $1.7 million, with an average cost of $636 for each person; TX counties spent $60,928 ($1,108 per patient); and MA spent $1.1 million ($3,330 per patient). For persons with noncounted TB, NYC spent $303,148 ($2,180 per patient), TX counties spent $40,002 ($2,667 per patient), and MA spent $84,603 ($3,525 per patient).
Health departments incurred substantial costs in managing persons with suspected and noncounted TB. These costs should be considered when allocating TB program resources.