Growth value thresholds used to identify positive blood culture vials can be defined by users for each BACTEC NR-660 bacteremia detection instrument. Growth values were compared with the recovery of organisms from vials flagged as positive during the testing of 3.056 high-volume vials containing aerobic (BACTEC PLUS 26) medium over a 2-month period. Results showed that optimal threshold values for our use of these vials varied from those recommended by the manufacturer; if the thresholds defined from these data had been used during the study period, total vials flagged as positive from which no organisms were recovered (false alarms) would have been reduced from 181 (5.9/100 vials tested) to 71 (2.3/100 vials tested), with a minimal decrease in the identification of vials containing usual or occasional pathogens (hits). Adjustments of growth value thresholds by the individual user can make the use of BACTEC instruments more efficient by decreasing further processing of vials from which no organisms are recovered
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