Journal Article

Cost-Effectiveness of Blood Cultures for Adult Patients with Cellulitis

Bezalel Perl, Nathan P. Gottehrer, David Raveh, Yechiel Schlesinger, Bernard Rudensky and Amos M. Yinnon

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 29, issue 6, pages 1483-1488
Published in print December 1999 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online December 1999 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/313525
Cost-Effectiveness of Blood Cultures for Adult Patients with Cellulitis

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To assess the cost-effectiveness of blood cultures for patients with cellulitis, a retrospective review was conducted of clinical and microbiological data for all 757 patients admitted to a medical center because of community-acquired cellulitis during a 41-month period. Blood cultures were performed for 553 patients (73%); there were a total of 710 blood samples (i.e., a mean of 1.3 cultures were performed per patient). In only 11 cases (2.0%) was a significant patient-specific microbial strain isolated, mainly β-hemolytic streptococci (8 patients [73%]). An organism that was considered a contaminant was isolated from an additional 20 culture bottles (3.6%). The cost of laboratory workup of the 710 culture sets was $36,050. Isolation of streptococci led to a change from empirical treatment with cefazolin to penicillin therapy for 8 patients. All patients recovered. In conclusion, the yield of blood cultures is very low, has a marginal impact on clinical management, and does not appear to be cost-effective for most patients with cellulitis.

Journal Article.  2784 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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