Sputum samples are easily contaminated during collection, particularly specimens from non-intubated patients. Suction specimens from intubated patients can be taken via a sterile suction catheter, protected catheter brush or from specific lung segments via a bronchoscope. Gram negative bacteria are frequently isolated from tracheal aspirates of intubated patients; only deep suction specimens are significant. Blood cultures should accompany sputum specimens in the diagnosis of pneumonia. Samples should be sent to the laboratory immediately.

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