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Pennsylvania TB sufferers may benefit from diagnostic test

Both the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have highlighted the need for better methods to determine whether patients suffer from tuberculosis as the disease claims the lives of upwards of 1.5 million people annually. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine may have come up with a gene expression signature test that improves the ability of Pennsylvania health care practitioners to diagnose this deadly infectious sickness.

The novel procedure, known as the Khatri blood test, is unlike other tests because of its heightened detection success rate. Researchers say it correctly identifies the absence of active TB cells 99 percent of the time, and it can diagnose all known strains of the disease, including those that have mutated to become more drug-resistant. It also avoids positive diagnoses in patients who carry latent TB.

Prior tuberculosis test methods have numerous flaws. Methods like pricking skin and drawing whole-blood samples fail to differentiate between people who have been vaccinated or recovered from TB and active sufferers. Assaying samples of saliva and mucus, known as sputum, may prove difficult with when patients can't produce enough fluid. In some instances, diseases like HIV have also been known to result in doctors accidentally missing TB cases.

Infectious diseases can be difficult for doctors to diagnose, and modern science is still discovering treatment methods. Although progress is continually occurring at research institutions, patients who receive incorrect assessments might be treated for the wrong ailments, and additional treatment could increase their medical bills. A doctor's failure to diagnose a serious disease may also result in it worsening as it goes unattended and ultimately lead to the death of the victim. Those who have been diagnosed improperly may want to discuss their situation with legal counsel in order to determine whether a medical malpractice lawsuit would be warranted.

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