Microbiology Requesting

This communication is on behalf of Pathlab Microbiology to inform you that like many other places, we are currently experiencing some staffing challenges. Despite our team’s best effort to maintain optimal service levels, we anticipate that there may be occasional delays with testing and reporting microbiology results over the forthcoming months.

To optimise the processing of critical samples and improve overall efficiency, we would like to remind all requestors to consider the "choosing wisely" principles before ordering microbiology tests. By adhering to these principles, we can collectively ensure the most appropriate and efficient use of our resources.

Please consider the following (and refer to our testing guides for full details):

  • Urines: Please strictly reserve laboratory urine testing to cases of complicated UTI including pregnancy. Uncomplicated cystitis does not require laboratory testing.

  • Superficial skin or wound swabs: Please restrict to where systemic symptoms are present, or where there is empiric therapy failure. In particular, superficial wound swabs from the peri-anal area and from chronic ulcers are often colonised with enteric flora and these results rarely change patient management.

  • Faeces: Wherever possible, please restrict testing to those patients with systemic symptoms, risk factors for Clostridium difficile, or as part of a public health outbreak investigation.

  • Sputum samples: Sputum samples from the community setting should only be sent in exceptional circumstances.

  • Ear swabs: Wherever possible, please send ear swabs only where systemic infection is present, bone involvement is suspected, or ENT specialists have been involved.

  • Throat swabs: Please restrict to where there are clear risk factors for rheumatic fever or where the patient is systemically unwell.

Please ensure brief and pertinent clinical details are included with all microbiology requests.

By adhering to these diagnostic stewardship principles, we can collectively enhance the quality and efficiency of our services, especially during this challenging staffing period, which we anticipate will last several months. If you have any questions or require further clarification, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team.

Your cooperation and understanding are greatly appreciated as we navigate through this period.

Drs Vivian Black, Vani Sathyendran, Michael Addidle, Clinical Microbiologists

Murray Robinson, Lead of Specialty Microbiology & Molecular