ISDD Implementation Leads to Decrease in Blood Culture Contamination


A second hospital finds that the combination of a mechanical initial specimen diversion device (ISDD) and staff education resulted in about a decrease in the contamination of blood cultures.

Conclusions from a study conducted by Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC Health) indicated that the combination of a mechanical initial specimen diversion device (ISDD) and staff education resulted in about a 4-fold decrease in the contamination of blood cultures which were continuous for almost 2 years.

Blood culture contamination can occur when needles become contaminated with fragments of patient’s skin during routine blood drawing. Blood cultures are critical in diagnosing blood infections including sepsis, but conventional techniques in blood drawing may complicate the process and lead to inaccurate results. These erroneous results can cause more harm including unnecessary treatments, exposure to other illnesses in the hospital, and more.

Lisa Steed, PhD, a lead author on the study and a professor in the MUSC Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine spoke about the study at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement National Forum in a press release on the study, stating, “Working on this study and seeing such strong results speaks to the great things that can happen for patients when clinicians join forces on these issues. Blood cultures, and the accuracy of those cultures, are incredibly important in making sure that patients are getting the right care, at the right time, and with the right process in place.”

Steripath, the ISDD used in this particular study, is a blood culture collection device that functions by isolating the portion of the blood culture that is known to cause contamination during the blood drawing process.

According to MUSC Health professionals, a decrease in blood culture contaminations in emergency room patients was seen upon training and implementation of the ISDD and they have seen an increase in more accurate diagnoses and proper treatment regimens for patients. The use of ISDDs is also predicted to cut costs and decrease the amount of time it takes for staff to make a diagnosis, thus increasing efficiency.

This is not the first time that such success was seen after using an ISDD. In June 2017, Contagion® reported on the results seen by University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) investigators who conducted a single center, prospective, controlled trial to establish whether the use of a Steripath ISDD decreased contamination of blood cultures in their emergency department patients. They found that the use of the ISDD significantly decreased the number of false-positive results. Contamination rates went down from 1.78% to 0.2%, which was observed to be an 88% reduction.

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