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How long to wait for culture results?

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Unexplained fever in infants is one of the commonest reasons for hospital admission. Traditionally, we have taken blood cultures, started intravenous antibiotics, and observed in hospital for 48 hours until the lab tells us that the cultures are negative. But is 48 hours unnecessarily long? This practice dates from the days when positive cultures were identified visually; nowadays automated technology allows much earlier detection. A multi-centre observational study from the US suggest that 24 hours incubation is long enough for the vast majority (Biondi E and colleagues. JAMA Pediatr …

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