Do positive anaerobic culture results affect physicians' clinical management decisions?

Tanaya Bhowmick, Tilly A. Varughese, Schweta Arakali, Susan E. Boruchoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background. Aerobic and anaerobic cultures from body fluids, abscesses, and wounds are ordered routinely. Prior studies have shown that the results of anaerobic blood cultures do not frequently lead to changes in patient management. Methods. We performed a retrospective chart review to determine whether positive results of anaerobic tissue and fluid cultures (excluding blood) affect physicians' treatment approaches. Of 3234 anaerobic cultures, 174 unique patient admissions had positive cultures and met inclusion criteria. Results. Only 18% (n = 31) of patient charts with positive cultures had documented physician acknowledgment (90.3% of acknowledgments by infectious diseases physicians), with 9% (n = 15) leading to change in antibiotic regimens based on results. Seventy percent of all patients received initial empiric antibiotics active against anaerobes. Of the remaining 30% (inappropriate, unknown, or no empiric coverage), 1 regimen change was documented after culture results were known. Conclusions. Given the lack of management change based on results of anaerobic wound cultures, the value of routine anaerobic culturing is of questionable utility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberofw236
JournalOpen Forum Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Clinical Neurology

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