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How to interpret a paediatric blood culture
  1. Shaun O’Hagan1,
  2. Peter Nelson2,
  3. Lynne Speirs1,
  4. Paul Moriarty1,
  5. Peter Mallett1
  1. 1 Department of Paediatrics, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast, UK
  2. 2 Clinical Microbiology, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Shaun O’Hagan, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast BT12 6BA, UK; shaun.o'hagan{at}


Blood culture is one of the most important diagnostic tests in medicine, considering the significant morbidity and mortality associated with bloodstream infection (BSI). However, it is an often misused and misinterpreted test in everyday paediatric practice. In this article, we explore the evidence related to paediatric blood cultures, with the aim of providing clear and clinically-relevant recommendations for its judicious use.

  • microbiology
  • neonatology

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  • Contributors PMa conceived the idea of update on the earlier version. SOH and PMa drafted and revised serial manuscript versions. PN provided microbiology expertise and edited the manuscript. LS and PMo reviewed and edited the manuscript. All contributed to the final review.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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