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Blood test may better diagnose tuberculosis patients

Oregon residents who have tuberculosis may now be diagnosed with a test known as the Khatri blood test. It was developed by researchers at Stanford University and is said to be 86 percent accurate in children. This greatly surpasses the 66 percent accuracy called for by the World Health Organization.

Medical professionals have long grappled with the difficulty of diagnosing tuberculosis. Methods cannot distinguish those who are no longer sick or who have been vaccinated from those who actively have the disease. Sputum sample tests can be a problem when people cannot produce enough. This is particularly a problem with people who are improving.

A full third of the world's population has tuberculosis although a much smaller fraction actively develops the disease. The team is now developing the test so that it can be used in clinical trials. One of its strengths is that it can identify tuberculosis in a patient who also has HIV. This has presented a challenges to doctors who have missed it in those patients before.

A failure to diagnose a particular disease is not always due to a lack of access to a reliable testing method. In some cases, it might be due to a negligent physician. For example, a doctor might make an assumption about a person's diagnosis and fail to do further testing because the person does not fit the demographic profile for a particular disease. Doctors may fail to detect cancer or heart disease in a young person who lacks a medical history that would suggest such a disease. This might mean a significant delay in treatment and could affect the person's prognosis. In some cases, a misdiagnosis might even be fatal. If this occurs, a patient or family members might want to have the assistance of counsel in filing a lawsuit against the medical professional who made the error.

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