Objective: Contaminated blood cultures result in extended hospital stays and unnecessary antibiotic therapy. Patient-specific factors associated with blood culture contamination remain largely unexplored. Identifying patients at higher risk of blood culture contamination could alert healthcare providers to take extra precautionary measures to limit contamination in these patients, and thereby prevent associated adverse outcomes. We sought to identify patient-related factors that contribute to blood culture contamination in hospitalized patients. Design and setting: We conducted a secondary data analysis of a retrospective cohort study at an academic medical center. Patients: Study participants included 19,255 adult patients who had blood culture(s) performed during a hospital admission between June 2014 and December 2016. Methods: Data were analyzed to evaluate risk factors for blood culture contamination using logistic regression. Results: Among adult patients, we identified 464 contaminated episodes and 11,010 negative blood-culture episodes. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.67; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.20-2.34) and stay in an intensive care unit (ICU) during an admission (AOR, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.14-1.74) were associated with blood culture contamination. Other risk factors included race, body mass index, and admission from the emergency department. Subgroup analyses of patients admitted from the emergency department showed similar results. Conclusions: We identified patient-specific factors that increase the odds of false-positive blood cultures. By introducing mitigation strategies to limit contamination in patients with these risk factors, it may be possible to reduce the adverse clinical impact of blood culture contamination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere46
JournalAntimicrobial Stewardship and Healthcare Epidemiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 18 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Epidemiology


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