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Microbiology - Turnaround Times

Specimens received during working hours will be cultured that day. Most urine reports are available the following day. Wound swabs, vaginal swabs, sputum specimens and faeces take two working days before a negative result can be issued. Often, a positive result can take 4 working days to complete, but certain fastidious or unusual isolates may take longer to identify. However, in these cases, interim results are often available, and can be obtained by telephoning the laboratory. Blood culture broths showing no signs of growth are incubated for five days before being reported. Significant blood culture isolates are often telephoned through by the clinical microbiologist on primary isolation. Chlamydia NAATs tests are performed daily and final reports issued within 4 days of receipt of the sample in the laboratory. Most in-house serology tests are carried out on a daily basis and reported within 72 hours. Anti-HBs, Helicobacter pylori antibodies and syphilis screens are batched and processed at least weekly and reports issued within 10 days of receipt. Tests referred to The Health Protection Agency at Leeds are usually not reported for over a week: verbal reports are available in 3 - 4 days, or sooner by arrangement if urgent.

Bacterial Culture

Investigation Turnaround target Standard Incubation time
Swab/fluid/tissue culture>75% reported at 96 hours48-120 hours
Blood cultures>70% reported at 144 hours120 - 240 hours
Faeces culture>85% reported at 96 hours48-72 hours
Genital culture> 60 % reported at 55 hours48-60 hours
MRSA screen>95% reported at 31 hours24-48 hours
Sputum culture>60% reported at 55 hours48-120 hours
Urine microscopy & culture>80% reported at 31 hours24-48 hours

NAAT Screening

Investigation Turnaround target Assay Frequency
Chlamydia Diagnostic PCR>85% reported at 96 hoursDaily (Mon-Fri)


Investigation Turnaround target Assay Frequency
Gentamicin assays>90% reported at 24 hoursAt least daily
Helicobacter faecal antigen>90% reported at 168 hoursWeekly
HIV antigen/antibody>90% at 48 hoursDaily (Mon –Fri)
RSV rapid test>75% at 24 hoursAt least daily



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