Occupational Health Clinic
September 27, 2011

If you work directly with patients, you could be exposed to the bacteria that causes tuberculosis. Most often this infection is found in the lungs but can be found in other parts of the body. The Occupational Health Clinic (OHC) has a program that screens at-risk staff for tuberculosis by using the TB skin test. We will also evaluate your health status to be sure that you are able to use personal protective equipment that can prevent an exposure.

What is tuberculosis (TB)? Tuberculosis is an airborne communicable disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB).

How do you get TB? TB is spread by tiny airborne particles that may be generated when a person with infectious tuberculosis sneezes, coughs, speaks or sings. Infection occurs when a susceptible person inhales these infected droplets.

Who is required to be TB skin tested?  Medical center faculty/staff who work in "medium risk" areas as defined by the "VUMC TB Risk Assessment 2017" located in the "VUMC Infection Prevention Guidelines" section on the Department of Infection Prevention website​ and have previously been negative or who have never had a TB skin test done at Vanderbilt. Additionally, all new employees of the medical center are required to have two-step TB skin testing. The first TB skin test will be administered at the initial Occupational Health evaluation. The second TB skin test should be administered two weeks later. See Policy OP 30-10.14.

How often must you be tested? After the new employee screening, a minimum of one TB skin test per year is required for all medical center faculty/staff who have previously had negative skin tests and who work in medium risk areas. If you have a known exposure to tuberculosis during the year, additional testing is required. See Policy OP 30-10.14.

When should my TB skin test be read? The TB skin test must be read within 48 to 72 hours after it is placed. If it is not read within this time limit, a repeat test will be required.

Can I read my own test and call in my results? No one may read his/her own skin test. A trained reader must read your TB skin test. Trained readers include: any physician, or nurse practitioner, most Occupational Health Clinic staff and certain persons from designated units that have been trained/certified by OHC.

What if my test is negative? If your TB skin test is negative, no further action is needed until your next scheduled testing or following an exposure.

What if my test is positive? If your test is positive, you must have a chest x-ray. You will not need to take another TB skin test – it may always be positive. You will need an appointment with an OHC provider to decide if further evaluation and/or treatment are needed.

I had BCG Vaccine. Do I have to be tested? You will need to have a TB skin test unless you have previously had a positive TB skin test. A TB skin test is required for persons who have had BCG vaccinations but never had a TB test. The skin test can help determine if the person does or does not have a TB infection.

I am pregnant, should I still have a TB skin test? Vanderbilt does not exempt pregnant women from TB testing. This is supported by the CDC. Testing is safe in pregnancy and healthcare workers are at risk of acquiring TB, so pregnant women in occupational testing programs should be screened as usual. See Policy OP 30-10.14.

How do I obtain a copy of my TB skin test reading? Log in to the Health and Wellness Information Portal for a printable copy of your immunization record, which includes your latest TB test results.

Keywords: PPD, Tuberculosis, TBST