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Admission Information and Discharge Instructions

What is bacteremia?

When bacteria are in your child's bloodstream it is called bacteremia. Bacteremia causes a fever but usually no other specific symptoms. This illness usually occurs in children 3 months to 3 years of age.

How is it diagnosed?

The diagnosis of bacteremia is made from a sample of your child's blood that is sent to a special lab for testing. If bacteria are in the blood it usually takes them 24 to 48 hours to grow in the lab. For this reason, your child may be given a diagnosis of "rule-out" or "suspected" bacteremia at first. A more specific diagnosis will be made when the test results are back.

If the bacteremia is treated before it spreads, your child should have no more fever and be acting well within 24 to 48 hours.

If the bacteria has spread or settled in another part of the body, more testing and treatment will be done and your child will need to stay in the hospital.

Why was my child admitted to the hospital?

Your child's diagnosis is ____________________________________________.

Main complication: _______________________________________________.

__ Needs IV fluids.

__ Needs IV antibiotic or other medication.

__ Needs oxygen.

__ Other reasons:_______________________________________________.

What are the requirements for discharge?

  • ________________________________________________________
  • ________________________________________________________
  • ________________________________________________________

How can I take care of my child?

  1. Antibiotics

    Bacterial infections can be treated effectively with antibiotics. All children suspected of having bacteremia are treated with antibiotics. The treatment can be with an antibiotic by mouth, by a shot (IM or intramuscular), by vein (intravenous or IV) or by a combination of these choices.

    Your child also needs the following oral antibiotic:

    __________________________. Give ________ every ____ hours for ____ days.

  2. Fluids

    Fever increases your child's fluid needs. Encourage your child to drink lots of fluids, even though he or she may not want to drink because of feeling ill.

  3. Fever Medicines

    For fever, give acetaminophen every 4 hours or ibuprofen every 6 to 8 hours. This will make your child feel more comfortable.

  4. Other Medicines
    • ______________________________________________________
    • ______________________________________________________
    • ______________________________________________________
  5. Additional Instructions




When should my child need to be seen again?

Children who go home with a diagnosis of "rule-out" or "suspected" bacteremia require a follow-up appointment or a phone call you're your healthcare provider within 24 hours. Your child may need to be seen again for another exam, to have the blood test results checked, and possibly to have more tests or antibiotic treatment.

___ Your child needs to be rechecked and has an appointment on _____________ at _______ with _________________________.

___ Your child needs to be rechecked in ________ days. Call your child's healthcare provider to make an appointment.

___ Call your child's healthcare provider tomorrow.

When should I call my child's healthcare provider?


  • Your child starts to act very sick
  • Your child is hard to wake up.
  • Your child cries constantly and is hard to console.
  • Your child develops a stiff neck
  • Your child develops a rash or red or purple spots.
  • Your child gets swollen joints.
  • You child has trouble breathing.
  • Your child's fever comes back.
  • Your child vomits up the antibiotic.

Call during office hours if:

  • You have other questions or concerns.
Written by the Section of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, The Children's Hospital, Denver.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-01-09
Last reviewed: 2009-12-01
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
2010 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All Rights Reserved.
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