Objective: To describe how frequently blood cultures (BCs) are obtained in the ED and to describe the incidence of true-and false-positive BC results.
Methods: Retrospective descriptive study of all patients presenting to a tertiary-level, mixed Australian ED over a 15 month period.
Results: A total of 3617 (3.67%) patients had BCs collected. Around one (12.1%) in eight of these BCs were positive; nearly half (45.2%) of which were identified as a false positive.
Conclusions: BCs are a common investigation in the ED with a high false-positive rate. Strategies are required to reduce false positives, including reducing inappropriate collection and improving collection techniques.