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Clin Biochem. 2012 Sep;45(13-14):999-1011. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2012.06.007. Epub 2012 Jun 16.

Effectiveness of practices to reduce blood culture contamination: a Laboratory Medicine Best Practices systematic review and meta-analysis.

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  • 1Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation, Century Plaza 1, 2987 Clairmont Road, NE-Suite 450, Atlanta, GA 30329-4448, USA.



This article is a systematic review of the effectiveness of three practices for reducing blood culture contamination rates: venipuncture, phlebotomy teams, and prepackaged preparation/collection (prep) kits.


The CDC-funded Laboratory Medicine Best Practices Initiative systematic review methods for quality improvement practices were used.


Studies included as evidence were: 9 venipuncture (vs. versus intravenous catheter), 5 phlebotomy team; and 7 prep kit. All studies for venipuncture and phlebotomy teams favored these practices, with meta-analysis mean odds ratios for venipuncture of 2.69 and phlebotomy teams of 2.58. For prep kits 6 studies' effect sizes were not statistically significantly different from no effect (meta-analysis mean odds ratio 1.12).


Venipuncture and the use of phlebotomy teams are effective practices for reducing blood culture contamination rates in diverse hospital settings and are recommended as evidence-based "best practices" with high overall strength of evidence and substantial effect size ratings. No recommendation is made for or against prep kits based on uncertain improvement.

Copyright © 2012 The Canadian Society of Clinical Chemists. All rights reserved.

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