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Rapid Tuberculosis Detection Can Save Health Care Costs


Narrator:       This is Science Today. A pathogen detector originally designed by researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for Homeland Security purposes, is being investigated for potential medical applications. Lab researcher Kristl Adams says Single-Particle Aerosol Mass Spectrometry, or SPAMS, can be used to rapidly detect tuberculosis.

Adams:           That's kind of a Homeland Security issue, too - obviously, you don't want tuberculosis running rampant in the United States, so it fits right along.

Narrator:       A retrospective, four-month study in an urban Los Angeles emergency room found that a rapid detection method would save health care costs. 

Adams:           624 patients were originally screened for tuberculosis and then out of that 624, 130 chest x-rays were taken and 22 of those patients were placed in isolation. None of those had tuberculosis. So, that's a lot of wasted resources on our health care system. So, if you could screen those people out early with a rapid detection method, you can save a lot of that cost.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.