False Positives Put Lives At Risk

Blog | 1 Sep, 2017

The Patient Consequences of Blood Culture Contamination are Serious - But Avoidable

Written By: Tammy Johnson, RN

Do you know what happens with 35-50% of all positive blood culture tests?

They return false positive results due to specimen contamination. Considering that the blood culture is a crucial diagnostic tool—essential for diagnosing life-threatening bloodstream infections and guiding proper antimicrobial treatment—blood culture contamination is a very real, very serious clinical challenge with potentially dangerous consequences for the patient.

Misdiagnosing a patient with sepsis subjects them to a probable lengthy list of avoidable consequences:

  •       Unnecessary and inappropriate use of potent antibiotics
  •       Repeat tests and invasive procedures
  •       Needless hospitalization and extended length of stay

We know an extended LOS leads to increased exposure to HAIs and HACs, but compounded with aggressive doses of broad-spectrum antibiotics as part of the sepsis treatment protocol, patients are placed at even higher risk.  Now we’re dealing with exponentially more susceptibility to potentially fatal HAIs such as C.diff. Meanwhile, these strains are constantly growing more resistant and more difficult to treat, fueling a very dire and imminent threat to global healthcare—the Antibiotic Resistance Crisis, which the World Health Organization calls this the third largest threat to global health.   

This means withholding unnecessary and inappropriate antibiotic treatment, unless absolutely necessary, is more critical than ever—it is our responsibility to eliminate inaccurate results and consequent patient morbidity. However, current procedures, policies, and best practices are not effectively preserving the integrity of aseptic blood culture samples, leading even our most meticulous and experienced healthcare providers to prescribe an unnecessary antimicrobial therapy path. So, what is the solution?

With hundreds of thousands of cultures drawn with Steripath, there is now irrefutable evidence proving Steripath can virtually eliminate blood culture contamination.  Results from institutions like the San Antonio Military Medical Center, Medical University of South Carolina, and the recently published University of Nebraska Medical Center study results in Clinical Infectious Diseases, show that Steripath continues to drive contamination rates to nearly zero.

Developed by a pathologist dedicated to protecting patient safety and quality—our most vital responsibility and moral imperative—the effective, easy-to-use Steripath means improved care for hundreds of thousands of patients a year.

“The names of the patients whose lives we save can never be known. Our contribution will be what did not happen to them. And, though they are unknown, we will know that mothers and fathers are at graduations and weddings they would have missed, and that grandchildren will know grandparents they might never have known, and holidays will be taken, and work completed, and books read, and symphonies heard, and gardens tended that, without our work, would never have been.”

–        Donald M. Berwick, MD, MPP, Former President and CEO, Institute for Healthcare Improvement

Learn more about how Steripath saves lives.

About the Author

Tammy Johnson, RN

Tammy Johnson has been in the medical field for the entirety of her 25 year career. Beginning as a registered nurse in Perinatal nursing in San Diego, CA, Tammy is now the National Director for Clinical Operations and Education for Magnolia Medical Technologies. In this role she oversees clinical operations, develops clinical partnerships, and is a highly evaluated speaker for professional organizations. Consulting on evidence based practices in order to achieve a new standard of care for patient safety and quality is her passion.