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Which statement about purulent secretions is correct?

a. They can be identified by color.
b. They are determined by Gram stain.
c. They contain two to four neutrophils.
d. They contain no squamous epithelial cells.

Correct answer: b. Purulent secretions are determined from a Gram stain, not from yellow or green respiratory secretions. Purulence criteria include secretions that contain 25 or more neutrophils and 10 squamous or fewer epithelial cells per low power field microscope. If a semiquantitative Gram stain is done, purulence is defined as 4+ neutrophils and no more than 2+ squamous epithelial cells.

To learn more, read the continuing nursing education article: “Ventilator-associated events: A new outcome measure”.

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