The Microbiology Laboratory
The microbiology department provides a clinical and laboratory service for users in the hospital and community and is also an integral part of the hospital's infection control team (ICT). The work centres on timely processing of specimens, to identify organisms by a range of tests and issue a report, with interpretative comments, to be used in patient management. In the case of bacteria (and yeasts), appropriate antibiotic susceptibility testing is done. Concise clinical details must be included on the request form, as this information is a key part of the overall diagnostic process. It also alerts staff to the possibility of organisms that pose a risk to them (e.g. a travel history, possible enteric fever, Salmonella Typhi/Paratyphi), so that the specimen is processed in the correct containment room. Examples of the range of organisms and tests are shown in Tables 5.1, 5.2 .