Blood cultures

In order to avoid skin contamination, the skin should be cleaned with alcohol and allowed to dry thoroughly before venepuncture. A 5-20ml blood sample is withdrawn and divided into anaerobic and aerobic culture bottles. In addition, cultures should be taken through indwelling intravascular catheters if catheter-related sepsis is suspected. All samples must be clearly labelled. Culture bottles are incubated and examined frequently for bacterial growth. Positive cultures must be interpreted in light of the clinical picture; an early pure growth from multiple bottles is likely to be significant, although cultures from critically ill patients may appear later or not at all due to antibiotic therapy. Any Gram negative isolates or Staph. aureus are usually taken as significant.

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