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Respir Med. 1999 Mar;93(3):208-12.

Utility of blood cultures in community-acquired pneumonia requiring hospitalization: influence of antibiotic treatment before admission.

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Pneumology and Intensive Care Unit, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sud, Amiens, France.


It has been previously shown that antibiotics given before hospitalization significantly reduce the proportion of positive blood cultures in community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). The aim of this prospective study was to compare the utility and cost-benefits of blood cultures in patients, hospitalized for moderate CAP, who had or had not received antibiotic therapy prior to admission. During 1 year, 53 patients were included and separated into two groups: group 1 patients had not received antibiotic treatment prior to admission (n = 30), whereas group 2 patients had been treated with antibiotics (n = 23). Within the first 48 hours, a set of blood cultures was collected if the body temperature was higher than 38.5 degrees C or in the case of shaking chills. A total of 136 blood cultures was collected; 74 in group 1 and 62 in group 2. Bacteraemia was significantly more frequent in group 1 than in group 2, 5/30 patients vs. 0/23, respectively (P < 0.05). The cost of negative blood cultures was valued at 13,939.2 FF in group 1 and 13,164.8 FF in group 2, respectively 464.6 +/- 244.3 FF and 569.3 +/- 233.4 FF per patient (n.s.). Moreover, blood cultures were the method of diagnosis in only one of the five patients with bacteraemia and in no case did a positive blood-culture result influence the initial therapeutic regime. Thus, our results suggest a reduced clinical utility and cost-benefit of blood cultures in patients hospitalized for moderate CAP who have received an antibiotic treatment prior to admission.

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