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Significance of Blood Culture Isolates of Staphylococcus epidermidis

John N. Sheagren, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1987;147(4):635. doi:10.1001/archinte.1987.00370040017002.
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Coagulase-negative staphylococci are important microbes for two quite different reasons. First, they are now recognized as common causes of infections around prosthetic devices, especially cardiac valves, cerebrospinal fluid shunts, peritoneal dialysis catheters, and in-dwelling intravascular lines. Second, these organisms are the most frequent cause of positive blood cultures in the hospital setting,1 not because they so frequently cause bacteremic infections but because they are extremely common contaminants as they are part of the normal skin flora. Vaughn Kirchhoff, MD, and I2 have provided data showing that coagulase-negative staphylococci, although the most common organisms recovered from blood culture bottles at the University of Michigan Hospitals, Ann Arbor, were rarely responsible for clinically important bacteremias. In fact, by criteria defining true clinical infection, only 33 (6.3%) of 527 patients having one or more blood cultures positive for coagulase-negative staphylococci had a "true," clinically significant episode of bacteremia. Archer3 has


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