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"Essential Steps for Proper Collection and Processing of a Blood Culture"

A blood culture is a laboratory test used to identify the presence of bacteria or other microorganisms in the bloodstream. This test is used to diagnose infections such as sepsis, endocarditis, and bacteremia, and to guide treatment decisions. Blood cultures are collected by a healthcare provider, usually a nurse or phlebotomist, and sent to a laboratory for analysis. The process of collecting a blood culture involves obtaining a sterile blood sample, labeling the sample with the patient's information, and transporting it to the laboratory for analysis. Proper technique is essential for accurate results, as contamination of the sample can affect the accuracy of the test. Blood cultures play a crucial role in the diagnosis and treatment of infections, and are an important part of patient care.

Steps for Drawing Blood Cultures

  1. Gather the materials needed to draw a blood culture. The materials include sterile gauze, zip lock specimen bags, tape, patient labels (self-adhesive), gloves, tourniquet, alcohol swabs, chlorhexidine swabs, blood culture bottles (2 bottles for each set), 2 needles (23 or 25 gauge for pediatrics and 22 gauge for adults), and 2 syringes ( 5 cc or pediatrics and 22 cc for adults).

  2. Wash hands for at least 15 seconds with soap and warm water. Use the patient’s arm band to identify the patient against the information in the patient’s chart. Explain the process to the patient and answer any questions that the patient has.

  3. Prep the cap of the culture bottles using alcohol pads. Clean the area using a circular motion. Make sure that the area is dry before proceeding.

  4. Use chlorhexidine to prepare the puncture site. Remove the applicator from the packaging.

  5. Hold the applicator with a gloved hand and point it downward, squeeze the wings very gently to release the solution.

  6. Scrub the area for 2 minutes if applying to wet skin or 30 seconds if applying to dry skin. Using a back and forth motion is best. After cleaning the site with chlorhexidine, do not wipe the area again.

  7. Don sterile gloves before moving to the next step. Use nonsterile gloves if it is not necessary to perform a physical examination before puncturing the site, or use sterile gloves if palpation is necessary before puncturing the site.

  8. Collect the correct amount of blood for each specimen. Use the following guidelines:

  • Adults – 20 ml syringe – 10 ml (aerobic bottle) and 10 ml ( anaerobic bottle)

  • Pediatric – 20 ml syringe – 2.5 -10 ml (aerobic bottle) and 2.5 – 10 ml (anaerobic bottle)

  • Infants – 3 ml syringe – 0.5 – 1 ml (aerobic bottle) and 0.5 – 1 ml ( anaerobic bottle)

9. Mix the blood in the bottles by gently rotating the broth and blood contained in the bottles.

10. Label the patient’s bottles with the self-adhesive labels. Also, write the collection site for each specimen on the label. Apply the laboratory requisition to the bottle. Make sure that the labels do not cover the bar code on each of the bottles.

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