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Should Blood Cultures Be Drawn Through an Indwelling Catheter?

There is no practical way to definitively diagnose a catheter-related bloodstream infection in situ if blood cultures are only obtained percutaneously unless there is the rare occurrence of purulent drainage from a central venous catheter insertion site. That is why the Infectious Diseases Society of America guidelines for diagnosis and management of catheter-related bloodstream infections and Infectious Diseases Society of America guidelines for evaluation of fever in critically ill patients both recommend drawing blood cultures from a central venous catheter and percutaneously if the catheter is a suspected source of infection. However, central venous catheter-drawn blood cultures may be more likely to be positive reflecting catheter hub, connector, or intraluminal colonization, and many hospitals in the United States discourage blood culture collection from catheters in an effort to reduce reporting of central-line associated bloodstream infections to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As such, clinical decisions are made regarding catheter removal or other therapeutic interventions based on incomplete and potentially inaccurate data. We urge clinicians to obtain catheter-drawn blood cultures when the catheter may be the source of suspected infection.

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