Background: Skin colonization of microorganisms in blood cultures (BCs) are generally considered clinically non-significant and can be the source of a true infection, particularly in immunosuppressed patients.
Objectives: To study the epidemiology and risk factors for bacteremia caused by contaminants.
Methods: This retrospective, descriptive study is based on adult BCs collected (2004–2013) and categorized as positive (True bacteremia [TrueB] or contamination) or negative. Clinical, demographic, and laboratory characteristics of BCs positive for the six most common potential contaminant pathogens (PCPs) that can cause TrueB and contamination (Coagulase-negative Staphylococcus [CoNS], Streptococcus viridans, Propionibacterium acnes, Corynebacterium spp., Bacillus spp., Clostridium spp.) were assessed. Ninety-two TrueB were identified vs. 196 contaminations (1:2 ratio).
Results: From 74,014 BCs, PCPs were found in 3735 samples, of which 3643 (97.5%) were contaminations and 92 (2.5%) were TrueB. The overall rate of BC contamination decreased during the study period from 6.7% to 3.8%. CoNS was the most common PCP. Bacillus spp. were only contaminants. Clostridium spp. and Streptococcus viridans were more often TrueB. In a multivariate model, predictors of TrueB included high creatinine levels, Streptococcus viridans in BC, and multiple positive BCs. A single culture of CoNS was strongly predictive of contamination.
Conclusions: Ten years of data on BCs, focusing on six PCPs, demonstrates a significant, yet insufficient reduction in the rate of contamination. High creatinine level, isolation of Streptococcus viridans, and multiple positive BCs were predictors of TrueB, while growth of CoNS was strongly predictive of contamination. This model could assist in diagnostic and therapeutic decision making.