Aim of this Policy

This policy is to ensure that all healthcare workers across the Trust are able to appropriately manage a patient with known or suspected Tuberculosis using the correct infection control procedures.



To prevent the spread of infection to other patients, visitors and staff.


Patients with Tuberculosis (TB)

As a general principle, tuberculosis should be considered in any patient in an “at risk” group who has a pleural effusion or upper lobe disease on CXR, or a persistent cough with or without haemoptysis lasting more than three weeks, especially if there is weight loss, anorexia, fever, night sweats, or malaise.

Such patients should be admitted to a single room until infectious tuberculosis has been excluded. Adult patients with, or suspected of having multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) must be nursed in a negative pressure room on Aspen ward. See Appendix 1.

Infection is almost always acquired by inhaling infective droplets coughed by a person with infectious tuberculosis of the lung. An individual who is coughing up so many Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria that they are visible by microscopy of a smear of sputum (smear positive) will be more infectious than an individual who is coughing up too few bacteria to be seen by microscopy (smear negative). The bacteria seen on microscopy are referred to as ‘acid fast bacilli’ or ‘acid-alcohol fast bacilli’ because they retain stains despite an attempt to decolonise them with acid or alcohol.

If a patient nursed on an open ward is diagnosed with infectious TB, the risk to others is small. Tuberculosis usually requires prolonged close contact for transmission of infection from person to person. Generally patients at risk are those in the same bay as the index case and in contact for longer than eight hours. Unless there is a clear clinical or socioeconomic need, people with TB should not be admitted to the hospital for diagnostic tests or care.


Policy Details

Download: PDF version
Compiled by: The Infection Control Team
Ratified by: Clinical Governance Committee
Date Ratified: October 2017
Date Issued: August 2019
Review Date: October 2020
Target Audience: All Trust staff
Contact name: The Infection Control Team


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