Blood culture procedures and practices in the neonatal intensive care unit: A survey of a large multicenter collaborative in California

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2023 Oct;44(10):1576-1581. doi: 10.1017/ice.2023.33. Epub 2023 Mar 16.


Objective: To describe variation in blood culture practices in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Design: Survey of neonatal practitioners involved with blood culturing and NICU-level policy development.

Participants: We included 28 NICUs in a large antimicrobial stewardship quality improvement program through the California Perinatal Quality Care Collaborative.

Methods: Web-based survey of bedside blood culture practices and NICU- and laboratory-level practices. We evaluated adherence to recommended practices.

Results: Most NICUs did not have a procedural competency (54%), did not document the sample volume (75%), did not receive a culture contamination report (57%), and/or did not require reporting to the provider if <1 mL blood was obtained (64%). The skin asepsis procedure varied across NICUs. Only 71% had a written procedure, but ≥86% changed the needle and disinfected the bottle top prior to inoculation. More than one-fifth of NICUs draw a culture from an intravascular device only (if present). Of 13 modifiable practices related to culture and contamination, NICUs with nurse practitioners more frequently adopted >50% of practices, compared to units without (92% vs 50% of units; P < .02).

Conclusions: In the NICU setting, recommended practices for blood culturing were not routinely performed.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Blood Culture*
  • California
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pregnancy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires