Mark L. Metersky, MD


When to obtain cultures from patients with community-acquired pneumonia

April 01, 2005

Abstract: The use of sputum studies and blood cultures in patients hospitalized with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is somewhat controversial, and recommendations continue to evolve. A reasonable approach is to attempt to obtain sputum cultures from all patients before initiating antibiotic therapy. If antibiotics have already been given, sputum studies can be reserved for patients who are severely ill or who are at risk for infection with a resistant organism or an organism that is not covered by the usual empiric therapy. The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Thoracic Society both recommend obtaining blood cultures from all patients. However, cost considerations have led to alternative strategies, such as reserving blood cultures for those with severe CAP. (J Respir Dis. 2005;26(4):143-148)