Microbiology Top 10 Tips (August 2016) - GHNHSFT

The following Top 10 Tips are taken from the GHFT Pathology Summer Newsletter. All newsletters can be found on the GHFT website by following this link.

  1. Do please remember to provide relevant clinical details on microbiology specimen requests.
  2. Providing details of relevant travel history on all pathology specimen requests is important for the safety of laboratory personnel as well as assisting with appropriate microbiological investigation. Travel history includes areas visited, dates of travel and return and date of symptom onset.
  3. Nathnac/Travel Health Pro is a useful travel health resource - “TravelHealthPro is the website comprising the travel health resources of the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).”
  4.  A reminder that information on undertaking microbiology investigations can be found on the GHNHSFT website
  5. Regarding antibiotic susceptibility test results, do please provide details of antibiotic allergy as well as any current or intended antibiotic therapy. Please contact the microbiology department promptly following receipt of a report if additional antibiotic susceptibility testing is felt to be required as many bacterial isolates are only stored for a few days.
  6. Do remember to use our local antibiotic guidelines - The primary care guidelines include information on typical antibiotic activities; see tables on pages 48-49.
  7. Predicting antibiotic susceptibility results is sometimes possible from results already obtained. Common examples: 1) clarithromycin susceptible staphylococci and streptococci can be assumed to be susceptible to clindamycin. 2) tetracycline susceptible bacterial isolates can be assumed to be susceptible to doxycycline.
  8. National infection related resources which you may find useful include:
    NICE CKS (Clinical Knowledge Summaries) service: (search under specialities for infections and infestations)
    “The Green Book” on immunisation
  9. Please provide a direct contact telephone number if possible when requesting clinical advice from a consultant medical microbiologist.
  10. Public Health advice is provided by local Health Protection Teams (HPT). These teams can provide advice and support in relation to immunisation issues as well as health protection incidents and outbreaks e.g. PVL-Staphylococcus aureus infections, outbreaks in nursing homes and residential care settings.
    They should also be contacted for urgent notifications of notifiable diseases.
    Telephone contact details are: Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire HPT - 03003038162
    West Midlands West HPT (includes Herefordshire and Worcestershire) - 0344 225 3560 (Out of hours 01384 679 031)
2 Sample Requirements for Blood Transfusion Samples and FAQs - GHFT


Wrong Blood in Tube (WBIT) events are recognised as being one of the greatest risks to safe blood transfusion practice.

A WBIT event occurs when a blood sample is taken for a patient but is then labelled with the details of a different patient which, if not detected using historical data for the patient, can result in a patient being given ABO incompatible blood which is potentially catastrophic. There have been fatalities reported due to undetected WBITs.

In order to detect a WBIT before it can cause serious harm it is recommended in national guidance from the British Committee for Standards in Haematology (BCSH) that all patients who require a blood transfusion must have at least two separate blood transfusion samples processed to confirm the patient’s ABO blood group.

Transfusion samples will be valid for 7 days unless the patient has been pregnant or had a transfusion during the previous 3 months, in which case the sample will be valid for 3 days.

For more details please refer to the GHNHSFT Blood Transfusion intranet pages for The 2 sample Rule


From August 2017, a new version of the Blood Transfusion Request Form will be phased in to replace the existing forms.

The transfusion laboratory will continue to receive requests using the current request forms while existing stocks are being used up by staff in clinical areas.

The new form has been changed primarily to update the guidance given on the reverse of the form to bring it into line with current BCSH Guidelines:

  • 2 sample rule
  • Sample Validity
  • Single unit transfusions

The front side also has some changes regarding how the demographics are set out and includes some further fields to support accurate completion of the form.

  • Please use up existing stocks of the current form
  • When replacement stock ordering the new forms will be supplied

For Community Blood Transfusions contact the Single Point of Clinical Access (SPCA) on 0300 421 0300.

Please view the Blood Transfusion Request Form here.

Guidance on completing the form can be found here.


Microbiology Service and Tests - Factors affecting performance - GHNHSFT Guidance

Although not an exhaustive list, the following resource link takes you to factors which may affect the performance of microbiology tests. Steps should be taken wherever possible to minimise the potential  impact of these factors.

Search Pathology Test, Investigation or Sample Information

Search GHT's pathology department's database by test, investigation or sample for general gudiance information on:

  • Sample requirements
  • Required information
  • Turnaround times
  • Reference ranges
  • Storage/transport