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Hu Li Za Zhi. 2018 Oct;65(5):89-97. doi: 10.6224/JN.201810_65(5).11.

[Reducing Blood Culture Contamination Rates in the Emergency Department].

[Article in Chinese; Abstract available in Chinese from the publisher]

Author information

BSN, RN, Head Nurse, Department of Nursing, Pao-Chien Hospital, Taiwan, ROC.
MSN, RN, Supervisor, Department of Nursing, Pao- Chien Hospital, Taiwan, ROC.
MS, Specialist, Strategy Planning Office, Pao-Chien Hospital, Taiwan, ROC.


in English, Chinese


Rate of contamination is a well-known indicator of quality of care in the emergency department. Blood-culture results may affect clinical decision making. From January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015, the contamination rate of blood culture in our emergency department was 5.63%, which exceeded the maximum of 3% suggested by the American Society for Microbiology and the clinical laboratory at our hospital.


Using a quality improvement strategy, this project aimed to (1) identify potential factors contributing to the high blood culture contamination rate and (2) achieve a blood culture contamination rate below 3%.


The factors that were identified as potentially contributing to the high blood culture contamination rate were: (a) Nursing staff: lack of related education and training and ignorance of related clinical guidelines; (b) The system: inconsistent and non-evidence-based clinical guidelines (e.g., no requirement to use sterile gloves when obtaining blood cultures and changing disinfectants); (c) The patient: older patients, residents of long-term care facility, and patients whose blood culture were in the first set were associated with higher blood culture contamination rates. Our quality improvement strategy included: design a new bedside working plate, develop slogans and posters illustrating the proper blood-drawing procedure, make a video introducing current standard technology, provide continuing education, monitor contamination rates, and provide individual feedback and retraining for those with higher contamination rates.


The strategy was implemented from October 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016, during which period the blood culture contamination rate reduced from 5.63% to 1.51%.


Conclusion: Improving equipment, using multiple teaching methods, and providing regular feedback not only significantly reduced the blood culture contamination rate but also enhanced the knowledge and skills of nursing staff in terms of blood culture sampling. We hope that our results are referenced by other nursing departments and used to improve the blood culture contamination rates in other clinical settings.


blood culture; contamination rates; emergency department

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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