Resident Develops Tuberculosis from Repeated PPDs

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NEW YORK – Infectious disease doctors at Albert Einstein College of Medicine report the first case of an individual contracting tuberculosis from routine PPD testing.  Fortunately, the Gomerblog team was able to talk to the head of research group who made the discovery, and obtain exclusive permission to talk to the subject of the case study.  

ppdPer Dr. Ramesh Govindaraj, attending ID physician and the principle investigator:


“We were fascinated by the discovery.  PPD, or purified protein derivative, testing should only contain species-nonspecific molecules obtained from filtrates of sterilized, concentrated cultures, and not any active tuberculosis.”

“It turns out the the resident in question started work at four new hospitals simultaneously and each required separate two step PPD testing because due to administrative issues no hospital would accept the PPD results of the other hospital.  He essentially received 8 PPD tests over the course of 2 weeks then developed a cough which eventually was diagnosed with TB.  We carefully examined all of his patient contacts during his time, and none of them had TB, so it must have come from the repeated injections. Our going theory is that each PPD added a little bit to the mix and eventually turned into active tuberculosis.”

What else amazed the investigators was the fact that the resident in question was able to still work the requisite 80 hours per week and still have time to complete the testing.  

“Fortunately, we caught it early and got the resident back onto his transplant surgery rotation.  He was overjoyed when we told him he didn’t have to miss any work,” commented Dr. Govindaraj.  

When reached for comment, the subject of the case, second year general surgery resident Dr. John Reed was less enthusiastic.  

“Yeah it would’ve been nice to miss a day or two of this transplant service.  But my senior is on vacation for two weeks, and I have three attendings and 20 sick patients that are either dying because they need a transplant or dying because they had a transplant.  Remember how Sweet Brown didn’t have time for bronchitis? I’m a resident, and I ain’t got time for tuberculosis.”  

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