BACKGROUND Contaminated blood cultures pose a significant burden by subjecting children to unnecessary testing, procedures, and antibiotics and increasing health care costs. The aim of our quality improvement (QI) initiative was to decrease the percentage of contaminated peripheral blood cultures in our pediatric emergency department (ED) from an average of 6.7% to <3% over a 16-month period. METHODS The QI initiative was implemented in the pediatric ED of a tertiary care children’s hospital. Interventions included change of the peripheral blood culture collection from a clean to a sterile process, nursing education, and individualized feedback. The primary outcome measure was the percentage of contaminated peripheral blood cultures. The process measure was the percentage of nurses who completed 75% to 100% of the steps of the sterile collection process, as measured by self-reporting in audit cards. The balancing measures were time from antibiotic ordering to time of administration and ED length of stay. RESULTS We decreased the percentage of contaminated peripheral blood cultures threefold from a baseline (June 2, 2018, to December 31, 2018) of 6.7% to 2.1% during the intervention period (January 1, 2019, to April 30, 2020). Ninety-eight percent of nurses who completed audit cards reported performing 75% to 100% of the steps of the new sterile process. There was no significant difference in the average time from antibiotic ordering to antibiotic administration or ED length of stay between the baseline and intervention periods. CONCLUSIONS Use of a sterile blood culture collection process, in addition to nursing education and individualized feedback, is an effective method to decrease peripheral blood culture contamination rates in a pediatric ED.
BACKGROUND: Contaminated blood cultures pose a significant burden. We sought to determine the impact of contaminated peripheral blood cultures on patients, families, and the health care system. METHODS: In this retrospective case-control study from January 1, 2014, to December 31, 2017, we compared the hospital course, return visits and/or admissions, charges, and length of stay of patients with contaminated peripheral blood cultures (case patients) with those of patients with negative cultures (controls). Patients were categorized into those evaluated and discharged from the emergency department (ED) (ED patients) and those who were hospitalized (inpatients). RESULTS: A total of 104 ED case patients were matched with 208 ED control patients. A total of 343 case inpatients were matched with 686 inpatient controls. There was no significant difference between case and control patient demographics, ED, or hospital course at presentation. Fifty-five percent of discharged ED patients returned to the hospital for evaluation and/or admission versus 4% of controls. There was a significant (P < .0001) increase in repeat blood cultures (43% vs 1%), consultations obtained (21% vs 2%), cerebrospinal fluid studies (10% vs 0%), and antibiotic administration (27% vs 1%) in ED patients compared with controls. Each ED patient requiring revisit to the hospital incurred, on average, $4660 in additional charges. There was a significant (P < .04) increase in repeat blood cultures (57% vs 7%), consultations obtained (35% vs 28%), broadening of antibiotic coverage (18% vs 11%), median length of stay (75 vs 64 hours), and median laboratory charges ($3723 vs $3296) in case inpatients compared with controls. CONCLUSIONS: Contaminated blood cultures result in increased readmissions, testing and/or procedures, length of stay, and hospital charges in children.