The Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics in Florida (ESSENCE-FL) is a web-based application for use by public health professionals within the Florida Department of Health (FDOH). The main source of data for ESSENCE-FL is emergency department (ED) data. Ten hospitals in Hillsborough County, Florida send their data to the ESSENCE-FL server. ESSENCE-FL requires only a limited data set to be sent by the hospital which includes patient chief complaint (CC) and discharge diagnosis (DD). These fields can be searched individually, in separate queries, to identify possible records of interest. These two fields have been concatenated to create the single chief complaint and discharge diagnosis (CCDD) field, allowing both fields to be searched with a single query.
While syndromic surveillance systems were originally designed for the detection of outbreaks and clusters of illness, they have been found to be useful at identifying unreported conditions of public health importance. Within the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County (FDOH-Hillsborough), these conditions of public health importance have primarily focused on the reportable diseases and conditions that fall under the responsibility of the Epidemiology Program and have not included tuberculosis. A specific query has been developed to search for and identify possible tuberculosis patients and exposed contacts. This study is designed to determine the usefulness of specific-term chief complaint and discharge diagnosis (CCDD) queries in identifying tuberculosis patients and exposed contacts.