AIMS: To assess the impact of blood culture results and early clinical liaison on the treatment of patients with bacteraemia. METHODS: 123 patients with significant positive blood cultures were followed over a nine month period in a 620 bed teaching hospital. The impact of early blood culture reporting and clinical liaison on the cost and appropriateness of treatment was assessed. RESULTS: Empiric treatment was started before the Gram stain result in 107 (87%) patients. Treatment was altered on the basis of the Gram stain result in 39 (36%) of these patients, and on culture and sensitivity results in 53 (50%). The spectrum of antibiotic treatment was narrowed in 58 (54%) of these; 20 (19%) on Gram stain result alone. This resulted in a 42% reduction in daily antibiotic costs in patients who had received empiric treatment. Empiric treatment did not follow the hospital antibiotic policy in 49 (46%) of the patients treated. In patients where empiric treatment was not in accordance with hospital policy, 21 (44%) had an isolate resistant to the empiric treatment used; while in patients who received agents in accordance with hospital policy only one (1.7%) had a resistant isolate (p < 0.05). Patients who died (11 (9%)) were less likely to have received empiric treatment in accordance with the antibiotic policy, although this did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.1). CONCLUSION: Early reporting of Gram stain results from blood cultures, combined with early clinical liaison, results in more rational and cost effective treatment.
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