The Microbiology Department offers Bacteriology, Virology, Serology, Parasitology and Mycology testing as well as advice to DCHFT, local community hospitals, General Practitioners and Environmental Health Officers. It also provides infection control advice, as well as being an acceptance point for environmental samples to be sent to Porton food, water and environmental services. There are staff available that have been trained in the specialist area of the deliberate release of biological agents.
The laboratory provides epidemiological data for the The Public Health England Centre of Infectious Disease Surveillance and Control at Colindale, North London and investigates outbreaks/incidents of infectious disease in support of the Consultant in Health Protection.
For test repertoire and information on specific microbiology tests including turn-around-times and urgent request procedures please click here.
Most routine specimens are accepted during 9am – 5.15pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 12pm Saturday.
The microbiology on-call staff do not work the same shift patterns as Blood Sciences and must be contacted for urgent tests required outside of routine hours.
There is a 24-hour on-call service. The on-call Biomedical Scientist (BMS) can be contacted via the hospital switchboard. Specimens will be processed outside normal laboratory hours if requested and agreed criteria are satisfied.
Appropriate specimens for urgent examination on-call include:
- cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)
- operative specimens such as biopsies or pus including drainage of empyema
- urine microscopy in children where it may influence the decision for acute abdominal surgery
- cultures in pyrexial patients with neutropenia or in labour
Always check policies and refer to senior staff before contacting the Consultant Microbiologist for advice
For advice on diagnosis and the interpretation of microbiology results or antimicrobial use, contact the Duty Consultant Microbiologist.
During normal working hours (as above) contact the Duty Consultant on 01305 254343. If the consultant is not immediately available, a message will be taken by laboratory staff and replied to as soon as possible. If a more urgent response is required, the consultant can be paged via switchboard.
Outside of normal working hours contact the Duty Consultant via the hospital switchboard. Out-of-hour calls should be made by doctors at registrar level or above. However, calls will be accepted from other grades for urgent advice on patients if team seniors are not available in a timely manner.
Please have the following information available when calling for advice, as consultants may be covering from home without access to electronic system.
- Previous microbiology results
- Current antibiotics and dose
- Previous antibiotics in the past month
- Details of antibiotic allergies
- Current and previous inflammatory markers
- Renal and liver function
There are cross-cover arrangements with Salisbury District Hospital over weekends.
Infection control information and resources for DCH staff members is available on Sharepoint.
For infection control enquiries please call 01305 253279.
Always check the ICE laboratory information system (LIMS) for results before telephoning the laboratory. If results are not available on the computer an update may be available from the laboratory on 01305 254338.
Reports are available electronically every working day. Most bacteriology culture results are reported after two to five days, depending on the investigation. Urine microscopy results are available on the day of receipt Monday to Saturday lunchtime. Serology and virology results and reporting depends on the frequency of testing and the urgency of the request.
Results of urgent requests will be available on the computer as soon as possible. Urgent results that cannot be entered onto the computer for whatever reason will be telephoned if they will aid immediate patient management. This includes all positive blood cultures and CSF results.
General laboratory/results telephone: 01305 254343
Dr Cathy Jeppesen (Consultant Microbiologist/Clinical Lead)
Dr Sabita Parida (Consultant Microbiologist)
Dr Lucy Cottle (Consultant Microbiologist)
Paul Davies (Head of Laboratories)
Supply of specimen containers
Most sample containers are obtained via the stores supply system.
The following are obtained direct from the laboratory by phoning 01305 254338.
- Blood culture bottles – store at room temperature in the dark. Keep bottles of each set together and return any unused bottles. Tell laboratory staff if you require ordinary sets or those sets for patients on antibiotics
- Chlamydia collection kit – store at room temperature.
- Per nasal swab/plate kits for whooping cough – store at 4oC
- Virus transport media for NPAs (nasopharyngeal aspirate) – store at room temperature.
- TB urine kits
All other supplies are obtained via the normal hospital supplies system.
Collection of blood cultures
The policy for taking blood cultures (adults) is available here.
It contains full information on the rationale for blood culture sampling, indications for sampling, when to take samples, procedure for taking blood cultures and the equipment required.
The best results are obtained when an appropriate, well taken specimen, in the proper container, is delivered to the laboratory promptly and relevant clinical information is provided on the request form.
For specific instructions on methods of sample collection, specimen containers, sample volumes and requirements for transport and storage please view our Collection of Microbiological Specimens Policy.
General guidelines on microbiology specimen collection are:
- Do not send specimens in non-sterile containers
- Where possible specimens should be obtained before antimicrobial agents have been administered
- An adequate quantity of material should be obtained for complete examination. Always send pus ( in a universal container) rather than a swab of the pus
- The specimen taken should be representative of the disease process. For example, material swabbed from the opening of a sinus tract is more likely to yield commensal organisms on the skin than would material obtained by curettage or biopsy of the base of the tract
- Care must be taken to avoid contamination of the specimen by micro-organisms normally found on the skin and mucus membranes. Sterile equipment and aseptic technique must be used for collecting specimens, particularly for those from normally sterile sites
- Material must be transported promptly to the laboratory. Fastidious organisms may not survive prolonged storage or may be overgrown by less fastidious organisms before culture can be undertaken
Please contact the laboratory if there is any doubt about the best specimen to take or concerning the availability of a test.