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Device Leads to Lower Blood Culture Contamination Rates

By Labmedica International staff writers
Posted on 07 Feb 2018
The use of a mechanical initial specimen diversion device and staff education has led to a nearly four-fold decrease in contaminated blood cultures that was sustained over 20 months.

Blood cultures help physicians determine whether patients have serious and potentially life-threatening blood infections such as sepsis. These blood draws may become contaminated with bacteria-containing fragments of a patient's skin that enter the needle during the blood collection process.

Image: The SteriPath Gen2 Blood Culture Collection System (Photo courtesy of Magnolia Medical Technologies).
Image: The SteriPath Gen2 Blood Culture Collection System (Photo courtesy of Magnolia Medical Technologies).

Studies have shown that conventional techniques can lead to false positives which in turn may lead to patients receiving more blood draws, extended length of stay, increased exposure to hospital-acquired conditions, and unnecessary antibiotic treatment. Scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC, Charleston, SC, USA) used the mechanical initial specimen diversion device (ISDD) called SteriPath (Magnolia Medical Technologies, Seattle, WA, USA), which is a sterile, closed blood culture collection system that diverts, sequesters, and isolates the first 1.5-2 mL of blood, the portion that is known to contain contaminants, during the blood draw.

The study also showed that use of the mechanical ISDD could reduce costs and use staff time more efficiently. The investigators suggested that MUSC would have saved USD 744,955 if the ISDD had been used for every blood draw in the emergency department during the study, based on a conservative estimate (USD 4,850) for the cost of a contaminated culture. Lisa Steed, PhD, a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, said, “Working on this study and seeing such strong results speaks to the great things that can happen for patients when clinicians join forces on these issues. Blood cultures, and the accuracy of those cultures, are incredibly important in making sure that patients are getting the right care, at the right time, and with the right process in place.”

Danielle Scheurer, MD, the MUSC Health chief quality officer, said, “We've seen a significant reduction of blood culture contaminations in our emergency department by using this device, along with education and training. By lessening the chances of contaminating a specimen, we increase our accurate diagnoses and treat patients with real infections. This in turn leads to decreased antibiotic use and allows us to help mitigate the ongoing, nationwide problem of antibiotic resistance from over or improper use.” The study was presented at The Institute of Healthcare Improvement National Forum was held December 11, 2017, in Orlando, FL, USA.

Related Links:
University of South Carolina
Magnolia Medical Technologies

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