Blood culture (BCX) use is often sub-optimal, and is a user-dependent diagnostic test. Little is known about physician training and BCX-related knowledge. We sought to assess variations in caregiver BCX-related knowledge, and their relation to medical training.
We developed and piloted a self-administered BCX-related knowledge survey instrument. Expert opinion, literature review, focus groups, and mini-pilots reduced > 100 questions in multiple formats to a final questionnaire with 15 scored content items and 4 covariate identifiers. This questionnaire was used in a cross-sectional survey of physicians, fellows, residents and medical students at a large urban public teaching hospital. The responses were stratified by years/level of training, type of specialty training, self-reported practical and theoretical BCX-related instruction. Summary scores were derived from participant responses compared to a 95% consensus opinion of infectious diseases specialists that matched an evidence based reference standard.
There were 291 respondents (Attendings = 72, Post-Graduate Year (PGY) = 3 = 84, PGY2 = 42, PGY1 = 41, medical students = 52). Mean scores differed by training level (Attending = 85.0, PGY3 = 81.1, PGY2 = 78.4, PGY1 = 75.4, students = 67.7) [p ≤ 0.001], and training type (Infectious Diseases = 96.1, Medicine = 81.7, Emergency Medicine = 79.6, Surgery = 78.5, Family Practice = 76.5, Obstetrics-Gynecology = 74.4, Pediatrics = 74.0) [p ≤ 0.001]. Higher summary scores were associated with self-reported theoretical [p ≤ 0.001] and practical [p = 0.001] BCX-related training. Linear regression showed level and type of training accounted for most of the score variation.
Higher mean scores were associated with advancing level of training and greater subject-related training. Notably, house staff and medical students, who are most likely to order and/or obtain BCXs, lack key BCX-related knowledge. Targeted education may improve utilization of this important diagnostic tool.