Choosing Wisely: Things We Do For No Reason

Things We Do For No Reason: Blood Cultures for Uncomplicated Skin and Soft Tissue Infections in Children


Skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) are common pediatric diagnoses in both outpatient and inpatient settings. Blood cultures are frequently obtained for evaluation of SSTIs. Multiple studies have demonstrated that blood cultures rarely demonstrate true pathogenic bacterial growth, and even positive cultures do not change clinical management. Obtaining blood cultures has been associated with increased length of hospital stay. In addition, false-positive blood cultures may occur and result in repeat blood cultures and increased hospital charges. Clinicians should avoid obtaining blood cultures in pediatric patients with uncomplicated SSTIs but instead should focus on obtaining wound cultures when possible.

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Pediatrics. 2013 Sep;132(3):454-9. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-1384. Epub 2013 Aug 5.