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New Study Rings Alarm on Cost of Contaminated Blood Cultures

Tens of thousands of dollars wasted due to poor phlebotomy technique

by Dennis Ernst • September 11, 2019

Phlebotomy News

Researchers in Houston have shed new light on the true cost of contaminated blood cultures, sounding the alarm that it's worse than we had thought.

Authors of the study, a systematic review of the published literature on the economic costs of blood culture contamination, concluded the cost to the patient was up to $12,611 for unnecessary pharmacy charges and up to $11,152 in unnecessary laboratory work. Patients treated according to false positive blood cultures kept them in the hospital up to 22 extra days.

As many as 49 articles published between 1978 and 2018 were reviewed and included in the literature review. The contamination rate reported in the studies ranged from 0.9% to 41%. Fifty-nine percent of those treated unnecessarily received vancomycin, which not only added to the cost of their care, but increased their risk of being infected by vancomycin-resistant organisms.

The authors concluded the cost of blood culture contamination was spread across multiple departments within a facility and recommended interventions to reduce the risk of blood culture contamination so that direct and indirect costs could be reduced.

Read the study.


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