Clean the skin: Reducing blood culture contamination in the emergency department

Emerg Med Australas. 2022 Dec;34(6):1006-1008. doi: 10.1111/1742-6723.14092. Epub 2022 Sep 29.


Objective: To determine whether blood culture contamination (BCC) rates could be decreased in the ED by an educational programme.

Methods: Educational intervention focusing on a 1-min venepuncture cleaning time and providing a larger chlorhexidine alcohol swab. BCC rates were examined retrospectively 12-month pre-, and 9-month post-intervention.

Results: Six thousand nine hundred and fifty-three blood cultures were collected over the study period. The BCC rate was 2.4% pre-intervention versus 1.8% post-intervention, with no significant difference in BCC rates (Z-score = 1.862, P = 0.063).

Conclusion: This educational intervention focusing on skin clean time did not significantly decrease BCC rates in a setting of an already low (<3%) BCC rate.

Keywords: blood culture; contamination; education; sepsis.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Culture*
  • Blood Specimen Collection*
  • Chlorhexidine / pharmacology
  • Chlorhexidine / therapeutic use
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Chlorhexidine