Research Article: Variations in the quality of tuberculosis care in urban India: A cross-sectional, standardized patient study in two cities

Date Published: September 25, 2018

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Ada Kwan, Benjamin Daniels, Vaibhav Saria, Srinath Satyanarayana, Ramnath Subbaraman, Andrew McDowell, Sofi Bergkvist, Ranendra K. Das, Veena Das, Jishnu Das, Madhukar Pai, Carlton Evans

Abstract: BackgroundIndia has the highest burden of tuberculosis (TB). Although most patients with TB in India seek care from the private sector, there is limited evidence on quality of TB care or its correlates. Following our validation study on the standardized patient (SP) method for TB, we utilized SPs to examine quality of adult TB care among health providers with different qualifications in 2 Indian cities.Methods and findingsDuring 2014–2017, pilot programs engaged the private health sector to improve TB management in Mumbai and Patna. Nested within these projects, to obtain representative, baseline measures of quality of TB care at the city level, we recruited 24 adults to be SPs. They were trained to portray 4 TB “case scenarios” representing various stages of disease and diagnostic progression. Between November 2014 and August 2015, the SPs visited representatively sampled private providers stratified by qualification: (1) allopathic providers with Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degrees or higher and (2) non-MBBS providers with alternative medicine, minimal, or no qualifications.Our main outcome was case-specific correct management benchmarked against the Standards for TB Care in India (STCI). Using ANOVA, we assessed variation in correct management and quality outcomes across (a) cities, (b) qualifications, and (c) case scenarios. Additionally, 2 micro-experiments identified sources of variation: first, quality in the presence of diagnostic test results certainty and second, provider consistency for different patients presenting the same case.A total of 2,652 SP–provider interactions across 1,203 health facilities were analyzed. Based on our sampling strategy and after removing 50 micro-experiment interactions, 2,602 interactions were weighted for city-representative interpretation. After weighting, the 473 Patna providers receiving SPs represent 3,179 eligible providers in Patna; in Mumbai, the 730 providers represent 7,115 eligible providers. Correct management was observed in 959 out of 2,602 interactions (37%; 35% weighted; 95% CI 32%–37%), primarily from referrals and ordering chest X-rays (CXRs). Unnecessary medicines were given to nearly all SPs, and antibiotic use was common. Anti-TB drugs were prescribed in 118 interactions (4.5%; 5% weighted), of which 45 were given in the case in which such treatment is considered correct management.MBBS and more qualified providers had higher odds of correctly managing cases than non-MBBS providers (odds ratio [OR] 2.80; 95% CI 2.05–3.82; p < 0.0001). Mumbai non-MBBS providers had higher odds of correct management than non-MBBS in Patna (OR 1.79; 95% CI 1.06–3.03), and MBBS providers’ quality of care did not vary between cities (OR 1.15; 95% CI 0.79–1.68; p = 0.4642). In the micro-experiments, improving diagnostic certainty had a positive effect on correct management but not across all quality dimensions. Also, providers delivered idiosyncratically consistent care, repeating all observed actions, including mistakes, approximately 75% of the time. The SP method has limitations: it cannot account for patient mix or care-management practices reflecting more than one patient–provider interaction.ConclusionsQuality of TB care is suboptimal and variable in urban India’s private health sector. Addressing this is critical for India’s plans to end TB by 2025. For the first time, we have rich measures on representative levels of care quality from 2 cities, which can inform private-sector TB interventions and quality-improvement efforts.

Partial Text: India accounts for a quarter of the estimated 10.4 million new tuberculosis (TB) cases worldwide annually, nearly a third of the 1.7 million annual TB deaths, and a third of the estimated 4 million “missing patients” who are either not diagnosed or are not reported to national TB programs [1]. Identifying these missing patients with TB, accurately diagnosing patients in a timely manner, and providing all patients with quality treatment is critical for reducing TB incidence and mortality rates [2].

The results are presented in 3 sections. In the first section, we describe overall standards of care, focusing on correct case management, medicine use, and laboratory tests. In the second section, we document variation in the data by provider qualification and city. In the third section, we document variation across SP cases, focusing on the role of diagnostic certainty.

TB is a persistent health challenge for India and is one of the top 5 causes of death between the age of 30 to 69 [31]. With India’s goal of eliminating TB by 2025 as stated in the NSP, the success of this plan heavily depends on whether India’s large, unregulated, and diverse private sector can be effectively engaged to identify missing patients with TB and ensure that all patients with TB receive quality TB care [32].

Source:

http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002653

 

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