Protecting Patients Against Sepsis Misdiagnosis
Blood Culture Contamination Compromises Our Best Defense
Written By: Tammy Johnson, RN
Sepsis is a vicious killer that is quick to strike and tough to combat. It is the leading cause of death in US hospitals and the 5th leading cause of death for the general population. The symptoms set in swiftly, launching a devastating attack on the immune system that requires immediate diagnosis and aggressive treatment to increase the likelihood of survival.
Time is of the essence once sepsis is suspected; after a patient’s blood pressure begins to drop–an indicator of septic shock–the risk of death increases 7% per hour. Therefore, it’s critical to initiate the sepsis protocol which includes collecting blood cultures and immediately administering antibiotics.
These blood cultures are often taken in chaotic, high-stakes emergency rooms and intensive care units where it is nearly impossible for even the most skilled nurses, technicians and phlebotomists to flawlessly execute the long string of evidence based practices required to prevent contamination of the blood culture sample.
Can these samples be trusted? Do positive results really indicate sepsis or are they false positives due to skin surface microorganisms? Blood cultures remain the gold standard for determining the treatment path for potentially septic patients but contamination rates are very high, 35-50% of positive culture results are false positives. Misdiagnosis due to a contaminated blood culture consumes very significant and limited resources that could otherwise be allocated. Additionally, the increased morbidity and emotional toll that a misdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment pathway exacts on patients and families should not be overlooked.
Steripath has been proven to decrease these contamination and false positive results by 92%, with a sustained rate of 0.2% over a 12-month period. During the crucial “golden hour” of treatment, blood cultures drawn with Steripath virtually eliminate blood culture contamination–establishing a new standard of care for blood culture integrity and accuracy. Preventing misdiagnosis, an extended length of stay and unnecessary antimicrobial therapy is a win-win-win for the patient, the hospital and global health.