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Polymicrobial bacteremia in critically ill patients

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To characterize the epidemiology of polymicrobial bacteremia (PMB) among critically ill patients.


Prospective clinical study.


University medical center.


All patients with positive blood cultures in a medical-surgical ICU.


PMB represents 8.4% of all true bacteremia in our ICU. Most of these patients were post-operative but none had malignancies or significant immunodepression. Over three-quarters of the episodes were nosocomial. No significant differences in factors associated with PMB were found when they were compared with a cohort of 154 monomicrobial episodes. Enterobacteriaceae were the most common organisms. Intravascular devices (42.8%) were the most common source of PMB, followed by intra-abdominal origin (21.4%). The overall mortality was 7.1%, a lower rate than has previously been described.


We suggest catheter replacement in patients who develop PMB and improving techniques of catheter maintenance in order to reduce its incidence.

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Rello, J., Quintana, E., Mirelis, B. et al. Polymicrobial bacteremia in critically ill patients. Intensive Care Med 19, 22–25 (1993).

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Key words

  • Polymicrobial bacteremia
  • Catheter-related bacteremia
  • Critically ill patients
  • Epidemiology