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Blood Cultures



Culture test to look for the presence of Bacteria (and fungi) in blood.

Click here for – Mycobacteria Blood Culture


Blood taken either from a peripheral vein or from a line.

Specimen Container

BacTec Blood culture bottles (see picture.)

  • Adult set (2 bottles): Aerobic (blue top) & Anaerobic (Purple top) – 8- 10mls in each bottle
  • Paediatric set (1 bottle): Paediatric bottle (silver top) – 1-3mls

Sample Collection

• Clean procedure tray
• Pair of blood culture bottles, (check expiry date)
• Sharps bin
• Chlorhexidine in 70% isopropyl alcohol swabs
• butterfly with monovette adaptor
• Clean, non-sterile gloves
• Disposable or non latex tourniquet
• Alcohol hand rub

Step 1
Skin preparation
• Cleanse your hands.
• Apply a tourniquet (if applicable) and palpate to identify vein.
• Clean skin over vein with a chlorhexidine/alcohol swab and allow to dry for 30 seconds.
• If taking from central venous catheter, clean access port with chlorhexidine/alcohol swab.

Step 2
Preparation of bottles
• Remove the flip off plastic cap and clean the rubber septum of the culture bottles with chlorhexidine/alcohol swab and allow to dry for 30 seconds.

Step 3
Sample collection – A: Butterfly & adapter method (preferred method)
• Cleanse hands again.
• Apply clean examination gloves (sterile gloves are not necessary).
• Without palpating the vein again, insert butterfly into vein.
• Attach adapter

For an adult set:
• Attach aerobic (blue topped) bottle first. Collect 8-10mls.
• Attach anaerobic bottle (purple topped). Collect 8- 10mls.

For a Paediatric set:
• Attach Paediatric (Silver topped) bottle. Collect 1-3mls.

NB. If blood is needed for other tests, always fill the blood culture tubes first.

• Release tourniquet, remove butterfly and discard in sharps bin.
• Cover the puncture site with an appropriate dressing.
• Wash hands after removing gloves.

Step 4
Requesting, Labelling & Incubation of blood cultures
• Place order for Blood culture MC&S as appropriate using EPIC. Ensure time, date & appropriate clinical information is entered in the request.
NB. Ensure that barcode labels of Blood culture bottle are not covered or removed.

During routine hours (09.00 -18:00 Mon – Fri, 08.00-16:30 Saturday, 08:00-12:00 Sunday) the bottles should be transported to the Microbiology laboratory (Old Path Lab) as soon as possible.

Out of hours:
(18:00-22:00) Contact the Porters and request that they transport the specimen to the Old Pathology Lab, so that incubation can begin without delay.
(22:00-08:00) Send them via the pneumatic tube system to station 2912

NB. Blood cultures should never be placed in the refrigerator.

Special Instructions

Please DO NOT overfill bottles.


Processed locally at RD&E

Turnaround Time

Up to 5 days for a negative result

  • Preliminary negative results available at 48hrs for adult and 36hrs for paediatric blood culture sets.

Useful Links

For patients:

Blood Cultures – Lab Tests Online

Specimen Labelling Procedure
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