Blood Culture
Investigations Culture and sensitivity
Inform lab before sending No
Specimen type Blood
Ideal time to take specimen Time of spiking temperatures if applicable.
Labelling requirements Each Blood culture bottle must have:

  • Unit number or date of birth
  • Full name (forename and surname)
  • Specimen type and line site (if applicable)
  • Date of collection

    Request form must have:

  • Unit number or date of birth
  • Full name (forename and surname)
  • Location
  • Specimen type and line site (if applicable).
  • Date of collection
  • Clinical information



  • How to take the specimen Full Aseptic Procedure covered in Blood Culture Specimen Collection Pack.

    Blood culture sets usually comprise 2 bottles, one aerobic (green cap) and one anaerobic (orange cap) Paediatric patients - use a single bottle (yellow cap)

    Ensure that the rubber caps have been wiped with alcohol in advance of the blood being taken and allow alcohol to evaporate to dryness prior to inoculation. Using ANTT and the Vacuette collection system to obtain 20 ml of blood and inoculate 10ml into each bottle, the aerobic bottle (green cap) should be inoculated first.

    0.5-4.0 ml should be inoculated into paediatric bottles.
    Transport to the laboratory Blood cultures can be sent directly to the laboratory via porter or using the POD system (710), Blood cultures taken out of hours can be sent via the POD or placed at room temperature pending transport to the laboratory.

    Do not place in refrigerators.

    Blood cultures from offsite locations (LWH, Broadgreen) are transported to the Microbiology laboratory via a courier during normal laboratory hours.

    Exception : Paediatric blood cultures taken from NICU babies at the LWH are placed in their ward incubator to maximise the time to positivity, allowing an accurate 36hrs patient review and therefore compliance with NICE guidelines.
    Test Times 7 days a week
    Turnround Negative report at 48 hours, final report within 8 days
    Additional information Because of the large volumes of blood inoculated, a single set of blood cultures should suffice for investigation of most patients. Patients with life-threatening infections or who are suspected of having infective endocarditis may benefit from having two or more sets of cultures taken by separate venepunctures. If a patient has a long line in situ (CVP, Hickman etc), an additional set of bottles should be inoculated with blood taken through EACH lumen (indicating that this is the case on the request form).
    Additional Examination Requests If culture for Mycobacteria is required blood needs to be sent in Mycobacterial blood bottles - see Mycobacteria section.


    Laboratory Services Home Page