• Bacteraemia;
  • blood cultures;
  • Escherichia coli;
  • mortality;
  • prognosis;
  • time-to-positivity


The time from the start of incubation to a positive reading of blood cultures (time-to-positivity; TTP) is related to the concentration of bacteria in blood. Information concerning the correlation of TTP with clinical parameters, and its usefulness as a prognostic factor in patients with Escherichia coli bacteraemia, is limited. To investigate the relationship of TTP to clinical parameters, 459 cases of monomicrobial E. coli bloodstream infections from a single institution between 1997 and 2005 were reviewed. All cases involved patients who were not undergoing antibiotic treatment at the time of blood sampling. The in-hospital mortality rate was 6.3%. Median TTP was significantly shorter for patients who died than for those who survived (9.7 h, inter-quartile range 7.85–11.05 h vs. 11.2 h, inter-quartile range 10.1–11.4 h; p <0.001). Patients with TTP in the lowest quartile were more likely to be female, to have a non-urinary tract or an unknown origin of bacteraemia, to have severe sepsis or shock, and to subsequently die. In a multivariable Cox regression model, the hazard ratio for death from any cause for patients with a short TTP was 3.13 (95% CI 1.28–7.64; p 0.01). TTP in patients with E. coli bacteraemia provides prognostic information beyond that provided by the presence of haematological illness, a Charlson score ≥3, a non-urinary tract origin of bacteraemia, and the presence of severe sepsis or shock.