The enormous problem with false-positive blood cultures
Determining whether a bloodstream infection exists is critical to the wellbeing of patients and the financial health of hospitals.
A blood culture test is the gold standard for identifying bacteremia.
Each year, millions of blood culture tests influence patient care decisions in the UK. The majority will find no infection, but of the cultures that test positive, almost 50% are false-positive results.
When blood cultures test positive—whether true or false—immediate action is taken to treat the patient with antibiotic therapy.
Roughly 20% of the microbes present in skin reside deep in the dermis layer and may be drawn into blood samples. Without a way to avoid these microbes, hospitals have accepted high rates of seemingly unavoidable false positives.
Why use it?
Approximately 50% of all positive blood cultures are false positive results due to blood culture contamination.
Hospitals spend £4,000-£8,000 per false positive test that leads to unnecessary treatment of non-existent bloodstream infections. There are high costs for patients as well. Extended hospital stays increase the risk of hospital-acquired infections and adverse events. Unnecessary antibiotics increase the risk of allergic reactions, drug interactions, and drug-resistant superbugs.