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Laboratory Medicine

General Information / Microbiology - Specimen Collection

Microbiology Sample Collection Advice

Please ensure the correct sample container is used: Click Here

Please ensure the sample is correctly labelled and request card completed to ensure acceptance by the laboratory: Click Here


Microbiology samples:

  • Must be material from the actual infection site
  • Optimal time for specimen collection must be established
  • A sufficient quantity of sample must be obtained
  • Appropriate collection devices and specimen containers must be used
  • Wherever possible, obtain samples prior to the administration of antibiotics
  • Use the correct container 
  • Supply relevant clinical information to enable appropriate testing and interpretation
  • MSU samples shall be (preferably) an early morning sample
  • Faecal samples shall indicate duration of symptoms, food history if food poisoning suspected, previous antibiotic usage and travel history.

Specimens for routine investigations should be collected as early in the day as possible to ensure that they arrive in the laboratory during normal working hours.

Information and Specific Collection Advice:

Blood for Antibiotic Assay:  Click Here

Blood for Antibody StudiesClick Here

Blood Cultures:  Click Here

Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF):  Click Here

Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) Samples for Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD):  Click Here

Chlamydia Collection InformationClick Here

Pus: A few mL of pus in a sterile 60mL universal bottle or a few drops in a capped syringe with the needle removed is much better than a swab.

FaecesClick Here

Sputum: Click Here

Lower respiratory tract specimens for Pneumocystis examination: Bronchoalveolar lavage specimens are best for identifying this organism. If this procedure cannot be carried out then sputum induction with nebulised hypertonic saline can be helpful, although false negatives are common. This must only be done in a single-bedded room to prevent cross-infection.

Surgical Specimens: SPECIMENS MUST NOT BE PUT IN FORMOL SALINE for microbiology.  Use dry sterile containers, e.g. sputum pots.  Make sure specimens are sent directly to the laboratory and not refrigerated.  The laboratory should be informed if the specimen is urgent or requires processing out of hours.

Skin scrapings, hairs and nails for mycology: Use a sputum pot or a “dermapack” collection pack.

Swabs: Click Here

Threadworm (Enterobius) investigation: Click Here

Urine: Click Here

Viral Culture:  Click Here

Web Page 29 Reviewed: 23/06/2020

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