Issues in Nursing: Shortages of TB Tests?

Many people have heard about the on-going shortage of the TUBERSOL® skin test. I know that has been a item of concern for many of the clinical faculty and students I work with in Michigan’s ACEMAPP program.

In April, the CDC originally reported the shortage of the tests, and while supplies were fully restored by June 2013, there once again are shortages of the drug.

The CDC has an excellent explanation of the shortage available here and you can find more information about CBER-regulated product shortages here.

Tuberculosis testing is essential for health care professionals and is a requirement for all nursing students. Most hospitals prohibit students from starting clinical rotations until TB tests are completed.

What about students who need TB tests before starting their clinical rotations? Fortunately, there are many options.

First, the CDC expects supplies to be back to normal before the start of most winter semesters, so this will hopefully not be a problem for the majority of students.

For students who need tests sooner, the more expensive IGRA blood tests are available, although these require a blood draw and more complicated interpretations.

The Oakland County Health Department has many excellent resources about TB tests and Tuberculousis causes, treatments and statistics here.

Contacting your local health department is the best way to learn about the availability of TB skin tests in your area.