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Sputum is material coughed up from the lungs and expectorated (spit out) through the mouth. A sputum culture is done to find and identify the microorganism causing an infection of the lower respiratory tract such as pneumonia (an infection of the lung). If a microorganism is found, more testing is done to determine which antibiotics will be effective in treating the infection.


A person with a fever and a continuing cough that produces pus-like material and/or blood may have an infection of the lower respiratory tract. Infections of the lungs and bronchial tubes are caused by several types of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi (molds and yeast), and viruses. A chest x ray provides visual evidence of an infection; a culture can grow the microorganism causing the infection. The microorganism is grown in the laboratory so it can be identified, and tested for its response to medications, such as antifungals and antibiotics.


In a normal sputum sample there will be no disease-causing organisms present. Often, bacteria that normally live in the mouth will grow in a sputum culture. This does not mean that you have a lung or airway infection.


a. handle specimen with care as to avoid specimen contamination. b. proper delivery of specimen to diagnostic facility. c. Have a laboratory test request d. Submit the specimen to the laboratory with in 2 hours


a. Wash your hands and gather the equipment.

b. Provide privacy for the patient and explain the procedure. Place the tissues nearby and have the patient rinse his mouth with clear water to remove any food particles.
c. Assist the patient to a sitting position, if necessary and ask him to cough deeply and spit into the container. Tell the patient to avoid touching the inside of the container because it is sterile. d. A sputum specimen is considered highly contaminated and must be treated with caution. To prevent contamination by particles in the air, keep the container closed until the patient is ready to spit into it. Close the container immediately after collecting the specimen to prevent the spread of any organisms from the specimen. Offer tissues for the patient to wipe his mouth. e. Wash your hands, label the container, and complete the laboratory request form. Take the specimen to the laboratory immediately; allowing the specimen to remain in a warm place will result in overgrowth of any organisms that may be present. f. Record the amount, consistency, and color of the sputum collected, as well as the time and date in the nursing notes.



-Explain the client that specimen must be sputum coughed un from the back of throat or lungs. -Have a sterile specimen cup ready for the sample and some tissue at hand. -Have the client take several deep breaths and the cough deeply. -Have the client expectorate the sputum into the sterile cup without the inside of the lid of the container. -Place the lid on the specimen container without touching the inside of the lid of the container. -Provide the client with tissues and make him or her comfortable

-Promotes client cooperation -The specimen must be collected in a sterile cup to prevent contamination. -Helps to loosen secretion so the client will be able to provide a specimen. -Prevents contamination of specimen. -Prevents contamination of specimen. -Promotes client comport