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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Lab Results

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Sputum Culture [posted 10/20/98]
Question: I am a nurse who needs to know if there are any circumstances under which a 4+ Sputum culture result w/ a susceptibility panel (Pseudomonas) be considered "just a colonization" or does this result always indicate a definite infection? Should this condition be treated w/an indicated antibiotic, barring an unusual circumstance such as pt. allergic to all indicated meds., very debilitated, etc., or is it o.k. not to treat?

Answer: First, did the sample have white blood cells in it -to ensure that it wasn't spit? Secondly, pseudomas is a motile organism and can overrun a plate-obscurring other organisms. So clinical evaluation of the patient is necessary to ensure that they have a pulmonary condition consistent with the culture. When all else fails look at the patient.

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