Model to evaluate the impact of hospital-based interventions targeting false-positive blood cultures on economic and clinical outcomes

B. P. Geisler, N. Jilg, R. G. Patton, J. B. Pietzsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Blood culture contamination (BCC) increases length of stay (LOS) and leads to unnecessary antimicrobial therapy and/or hospital-acquired conditions (HACs). Aim: To quantify the magnitude of additional LOS, costs to hospitals and society, and harm to patients attributable to BCC. Methods: A retrospective matched survival analysis was performed involving hospitalized patients with septicaemia-compatible symptoms. BCC costs, HACs and potential savings were calculated based on the primary LOS data, a modified Delphi process and published sources. The cost analysis compared standard care with interventions for reducing BCC, and estimated annual economic and clinical consequences for a typical hospital and for the USA as a whole. Findings: Patients with BCC experienced a mean increase in LOS of 2.35 days (P=0.0076). Avoiding BCC would decrease costs by $6463 [$4818 from inpatient care (53% of which was from reduced LOS) and 26% from reduced antibiotic use]. Annually, in a typical 250- to 400-bed hospital, employing phlebotomists would save $1.3 million and prevent 24 HACs (including two cases of Clostridium difficile infection); based on clinical efficacy evidence, use of the studied initial specimen diversion device (ISDD) would save $1.9 million and prevent 34 HACs (including three cases of C. difficile infection). In the USA, the respective strategies would prevent 69,300 and 102,900 HACs (including 6000 and 8900 cases of C. difficile infection) and save $5 and $7.5 billion. Conclusion: Costs and clinical burdens associated with false-positive cultures are substantial and can be reduced by available interventions, including phlebotomists and use of ISDD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-444
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Under a Creative Commons license cc logo Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


  • Blood culture
  • Contamination
  • Costs and cost analysis
  • False-positive
  • Quality of health care


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