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Blood Cultures

Blood cultures are used to assist in diagnosis of:
  • Fever of unknown origin
  • Sepsis
  • Shock
  • Chills/fever

Particular care is taken to avoid skin bacterial contamination when blood cultures are drawn:

  • Cleanse the skin with povidone-iodine or alcohol prior to venipuncture
  • After the blood is drawn, discard the needle and replace it with a fresh, sterile needle before injecting the blood into the culture tube
  • Cleanse the rubber stoppers on the culture tubes with povidone-iodine or alcohol prior to placing the blood into the tubes

Blood cultures are most likely to be positive for organisms during a temperature spike.

Normal Values*

Blood Culture Negative 

*These are general values taken from a variety of sources. The actual normal values may vary from lab to lab and from one type of testing protocol to another.

Source: Operational Medicine 2001,  Health Care in Military Settings, NAVMED P-5139, May 1, 2001, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Department of the Navy, 2300 E Street NW, Washington DC, 20372-5300