Utility of blood cultures in pediatric patients found to have pneumonia in the emergency department

Ann Emerg Med. 1996 Jun;27(6):721-5. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(96)70189-0.


Study objective: To determine the prevalence of bacteremia in pediatric patients with radiographic evidence of pneumonia in whom blood cultures were obtained.

Methods: We carried out a retrospective review of the radiology log of a tertiary care children's hospital to identify patients with radiographic evidence of pneumonia seen between August 1991 and July 1992. These patients were cross-referenced with the hospital laboratory information system, yielding results of any CBC or blood cultures.

Results: We found 939 patients with chest radiography findings consistent with pneumonia. Blood culturing was performed in 409 (44%). Eleven of these cultures (2.7%) grew pathogenic bacteria. Review of the medical records revealed no changes in clinical management made on the basis of the results of the blood cultures.

Conclusion: Blood cultures are uncommonly positive in outpatients diagnosed with pneumonia.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bacteremia / microbiology*
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Blood / microbiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Haemophilus influenzae / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pneumonia / diagnostic imaging
  • Pneumonia / microbiology*
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / isolation & purification