During a two-week period, all inpatient bacteriologic culture reports (1,381) were monitored, and ongoing chart review was conducted for all newly admitted patients (436) who had cultures taken; 17% of the infections had no cultures taken when indicated. The average bacteriology laboratory cost to each of these 436 patients was$37.16. Total antimicrobial drug costs were estimated to be $41,700.
Of cultures ordered for suspected infections in the medical and surgical services, 24.5% yielded positive results. Patients were already taking antimicrobial drugs when one third of the cultures were obtained. Immediate Gram stains were done 3.5% of the time. In only 20.9% of positive cultures with one or more isolates, 1.4% of negative cultures, or 7.0% of all cultures was a change made in therapy. There was no consistent logical approach to the use of bacteriological culture results.
Edwards LD, Levin S, Balagtas R, Lowe P, Landau W, Lepper MH. Ordering Patterns and Utilization of Bacteriologic Culture Reports. Arch Intern Med. 1973;132(5):678-682. doi:10.1001/archinte.1973.03650110034007