Suneeta Kochhar, Matthew Strutt, and John Philpott-Howard guide you through the key principles of clinical microbiology
Microbiological investigations are crucial to optimally manage infections and infectious diseases. Depending on the results, medical staff can give the appropriate treatment to target the infective organism and minimise the spread of resistant organisms. Staff may also need to initiate public health and infection control measures. Here we provide a brief overview of the techniques available in microbiology laboratories and give examples of their application to different types of specimen.
You must provide full clinical information on the request form for the laboratory to process the specimen correctly. Microbiologists may process the same specimen type differently in the laboratory depending on the information accompanying the sample. Ideally doctors should not give antibiotics before specimens are taken. However, empirical treatment may be indicated if the patient is seriously ill and waiting to collect specimens would lead to an unacceptable delay. For example, patients with suspected meningitis outside of hospital should be