The Problem With False Positive Blood Cultures

Blood cultures remain the gold standard for diagnosing septicemia. Yet, the U.S. healthcare system spends over $4 billion each year on unnecessary treatment associated with false positive blood culture results.

Whether your institution is above or below national standards for incidence of false positives, we believe that the only acceptable target rate is zero.

Independent third-party research has shown that false positive blood cultures can pose health risks for patients and economic risks for hospitals. In today’s high-pressure healthcare environment, it is impossible to ensure that every blood culture procedure is performed in adherence to best-practice antisepsis protocols.

How can you ensure compliance with each and every culture specimen draw? With SteriPath from Magnolia Medical. SteriPath is a complete, self-contained system that guarantees compliance so medical professionals can focus on the patient, not the process.

With SteriPath, you can be confident that each procedure is performed correctly, every time, day and night, from the ICU to the emergency department. Improved sample integrity leads to greater confidence and better results for patients and the hospital.

A false positive blood culture test can be a
dangerous and costly mistake.

The Problem:

blood drawing

Blood culture contamination contributes to 1.2 million false positive cultures each year in the US.


In addition to extended hospital stays, unnecessary treatment can harm patients by causing antibiotic-associated infections and other complications.

four billion people in the United States

According to independent, third party research, incremental charges range from $7,500 to $10,000 per incident and account for an unnecessary burden of over $4 billion per year on the US healthcare system.


Whether your institution’s false positive blood culture rates are at or below the 3% common benchmark, any single false positive result should be viewed as unacceptable in light of the health and economic implications. Each and every false positive affects a patient’s life and increases costs for the hospital.

When does contamination occur?

tray with syringes

During Preparation

Sterile field is not maintained.

dirty syringes cause issues

During Assembly

Bacteria can be introduced during assembly.

Skin Contamination

During Venipuncture

Microbes harbored in the keratin layer of skin are not killed by surface antisepsis and can be dislodged during venipuncture.

dirty blood sample bottles

During Sample Collection

Microbes often contaminate vacutainer tops.

Other sources of contamination

  • Time pressure causes medical professionals to take shortcuts that can increase risk
  • Best practices are not known or followed uniformly throughout the institution or across the health system
  • Blood is collected by a wide variety of staff who may have inconsistent training levels and experience
  • Even with proper training, adherence to standards and processes is not guaranteed because constant oversight and management is impossible to achieve.

What is


The simple, all-in-one blood culture collection system indicated to reduce sample contamination.

See How it Works >