Prevalence and significance of coagulase-negative staphylococci isolated from blood cultures in a tertiary hospital
Blood cultures (BC) are the most important tool in the diagnosis of bloodstream infections. However, false positive results are associated with increased laboratory costs and inappropriate antibiotic use. In order to determine the prevalence and location of blood cultures contaminated with coagulase-negative staphylococci (CNS), we performed a retrospective analysis of all blood cultures performed at St. Vincent's Hospital, Sydney during a 6-month period. From a total of 4234 patients with BC collected, CNS was isolated from 109 patients (2.6%). 94% of all CNS isolates (101/109) were contaminants. In the emergency department (ED), CNS isolates were significantly more likely to be contaminants (62/63, p<0.02) compared with the rest of the hospital, representing a 3.3% patient BC contamination rate. Treatment for a contaminant with vancomycin was significantly more likely to occur in ward patients (14/28, p<0.01) compared to the rest of the hospital. Duration of therapy did not differ across the hospital. Strategies to reduce the numbers of contaminants should be directed at medical staff in ED. Inappropriate vancomycin therapy could be curtailed by greater clinical microbiology liaison and vancomycin stewardship.