The goal of this study was to determine the prevalence of bacteremia in pediatric patients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) at our institution and to test the effectiveness of newly developed guidelines for obtaining blood cultures.


Using recent literature and local expert opinion, institutional guidelines for obtaining blood cultures in pediatric patients with CAP were developed. A retrospective chart review of children treated in the emergency department or admitted for CAP from January 2010 through June 2011 was conducted. Demographic and clinical data were collected, including results of blood cultures. χ2 tests assessed for variables associated with bacteremia, whether a blood culture was obtained, and if the decision to obtain a culture was appropriate based on our guidelines.


The study included 330 patients; 155 (47%) blood cultures were obtained in our patient population. Five cultures were true-positive findings, making the prevalence of bacteremia 3.2% in patients with blood cultures and 1.5% in all patients. All 5 true positive results met criteria for blood culture based on our guidelines. Applying our guidelines retrospectively, the decision to obtain a blood culture met criteria in 55% of the cases. Bivariate analysis showed that patients discharged from the emergency department had higher rates of guideline-appropriate decisions than patients admitted. Radiographic findings were associated with making a guideline-appropriate decision regarding blood culture.


Instituting local guidelines that limit the frequency of obtaining blood cultures in pediatric patients with CAP is likely to capture any patient with bacteremia. This study suggests that blood cultures may not need to be routinely obtained in all patients admitted to the hospital with CAP.

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