Tackling the problem of blood culture contamination in the intensive care unit using an educational intervention

Y. M. Alahmadi, J. C. McElnay, M. P. Kearney, M. A. Aldeyab, F. A. Magee, J. Hanley, R. Bailie, W. Donaldson, K. Johnston, S. Kinoulty, A. Tate, A. Doherty, M. G. Scott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Blood culture contamination (BCC) has been associated with unnecessary antibiotic use, additional laboratory tests and increased length of hospital stay thus incurring significant extra hospital costs. We set out to assess the impact of a staff educational intervention programme on decreasing intensive care unit (ICU) BCC rates to <3% (American Society for Microbiology standard). BCC rates during the pre-intervention period (January 2006-May 2011) were compared with the intervention period (June 2011-December 2012) using run chart and regression analysis. Monthly ICU BCC rates during the intervention period were reduced to a mean of 3·7%, compared to 9·5% during the baseline period (P < 0·001) with an estimated potential annual cost savings of about £250 100. The approach used was simple in design, flexible in delivery and efficient in outcomes, and may encourage its translation into clinical practice in different healthcare settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1964-1971
Number of pages8
JournalEpidemiology and Infection
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


  • Adequate clinical practice
  • blood culture
  • educational intervention
  • false positives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Epidemiology
  • Medicine(all)


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