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Chest. 1995 Oct;108(4):932-6.

Clinical utility of blood cultures in adult patients with community-acquired pneumonia without defined underlying risks.

Author information

1
Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta, USA.

Abstract

STUDY OBJECTIVE:

We retrospectively examined the clinical utility of obtaining routine blood cultures before the administration of antibiotics in certain nonimmunosuppressed patients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) admitted to the hospital during 1991.

DESIGN:

Retrospective review.

SETTING:

Grady Memorial Hospital (a county hospital primarily serving inner-city Atlanta).

PATIENTS OR PARTICIPANTS:

Hospital discharge diagnosis listings identified 1,250 adults ( > or = 18 years old) with pneumonia. From this group of patients, we selected patients admitted to the hospital with (1) respiratory symptoms and a lobar infiltrate on chest radiograph that were present at the time of hospital admission, (2) two or more sets of blood cultures obtained within 48 h of hospital admission, and (3) absence of defined risk factors: HIV-related illness, malignancy, recent chemotherapy, steroid therapy, sickle cell disease, nursing home residence, or hospital stays within the past 14 days.

MEASUREMENTS AND RESULTS:

Five hundred seventeen patients (mean age, 52 years;: age range, 18 to 103 years) qualified. Of these 517 patients, 25 patients (4.8%) had growth in blood cultures considered contaminants while 34 (6.6%) had blood cultures positive for the following pathogens: 29 Streptococcus pneumoniae, 3 Haemophilus influenzae, and 1 Streptococcus pyogenes, 1 Escherichia coli. Antibiotic therapy was changed for 7 of the 34 patients with positive blood cultures (1.4% of study patients). Antibiotic regimens were altered in 48 additional patients based on sputum culture, poor clinical response, and allergic reactions.

CONCLUSIONS:

Few blood cultures were positive for likely infecting organisms in adult patients with CAP without defined underlying risk factors. Furthermore, a total of $34,122 was spent on blood cultures at $66 per patient. In this carefully defined group of patients, blood cultures may have limited clinical utility and questionable cost-effectiveness.

PMID:
7555163
DOI:
10.1378/chest.108.4.932
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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