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Dr. Lerner letter regarding peripheral blood draws

Sep 20, 2013

Medical Staff Colleagues:

The CDC and the Infectious Diseases Society of America have recently changed their recommendations for drawing blood cultures. In the past, it was recommended to draw a single culture from the line and a single culture from a vein. It is now recommended that all blood cultures be drawn from the vein and that the line not be used unless there is no ability to draw from a vein.

Blood cultures drawn from the line are more commonly contaminated than are peripheral blood cultures. When a pathogen is recovered from a single blood culture, it is assumed that a line infection is present. This results in antibiotic therapy. The line must also be removed and replaced. By drawing only from the vein, we eliminate most of the false positive blood cultures and save our patients unnecessary antibiotic therapy and unnecessary procedures.

Charles J. Lerner, MD, FSHEA
Medical Director Epidemiology, Infection Control & Employee Health Baptist Health System
(210) 861-0980