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Telephoning of interim blood culture results: a regional survey


Aims: Most staphylococci grown from blood cultures are contaminants. Since they are microscopically indistinguishable from non-contaminants, considerable time and resources may be spent following up all patients with positive blood cultures before the identification is made the following day. Since there is no formal guidance or standard available in this area, this report surveyed practice in our region.

Methods: An interview was conducted by telephone, using a standardised questionnaire. Results were analysed using descriptive techniques.

Results: The majority of microbiologists did not communicate all presumptive staphylococci but waited for identification in some cases.

Conclusion: There is a range of practice in laboratories due to conflicting pressures: limited time, fear of criticism if results are not phoned, fear of causing confusion with provisional information and lack of clarity concerning what is “good practice.” This survey concludes that a decision not to telephone every presumptive Staphylococcus in blood cultures on Day 1 is reasonable.

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