Microbiological testing

Quality statement 4

A patient with a suspected infection has appropriate samples taken for microbiology testing as clinically indicated, preferably before starting antimicrobial therapy.

Purpose

To support appropriate antimicrobial selection with relevant microbiology testing when clinically indicated.

For patients

Before you are given medicines to treat an infection, your clinician will try to find out what is causing the infection. This will help them to decide which medicine is best for you. You may need to have a sample taken – for example, from your blood (a blood test), urine (a urine test) or a wound (wound swab) to find out what kind of microbe (sometimes known as a bug) is causing the infection. It may be important to start treating the infection straight away, before you have the test results. However, your medicine can be changed later if needed.

For clinicians

Obtain appropriate samples for microbiology testing when clinically indicated and before starting antimicrobial therapy whenever possible. This ensures that treatment can be specific for the infecting organism, and that the most appropriate narrow-spectrum antimicrobial is used.

For patients with a life-threatening or serious infection (such as sepsis), obtain clinical specimens as appropriate but start administering antimicrobials as soon as possible. Reassess the treatment as soon as the test results are available.

Follow guidelines for appropriate microbiological testing, such as Therapeutic Guidelines.

For health service organisations

Ensure clinicians have access to and use the current Therapeutic Guidelines and evidence-based, locally endorsed guidelines for clinically appropriate microbiological testing.

Ensure systems are in place for clinicians to take samples for microbiology testing before starting antimicrobial therapy, when clinically indicated, and for the results to be available to clinicians in a timely manner.

For patients

Before you are given medicines to treat an infection, your clinician will try to find out what is causing the infection. This will help them to decide which medicine is best for you. You may need to have a sample taken – for example, from your blood (a blood test), urine (a urine test) or a wound (wound swab) to find out what kind of microbe (sometimes known as a bug) is causing the infection. It may be important to start treating the infection straight away, before you have the test results. However, your medicine can be changed later if needed.

For clinicians

Obtain appropriate samples for microbiology testing when clinically indicated and before starting antimicrobial therapy whenever possible. This ensures that treatment can be specific for the infecting organism, and that the most appropriate narrow-spectrum antimicrobial is used.

For patients with a life-threatening or serious infection (such as sepsis), obtain clinical specimens as appropriate but start administering antimicrobials as soon as possible. Reassess the treatment as soon as the test results are available.

Follow guidelines for appropriate microbiological testing, such as Therapeutic Guidelines.

For health service organisations

Ensure clinicians have access to and use the current Therapeutic Guidelines and evidence-based, locally endorsed guidelines for clinically appropriate microbiological testing.

Ensure systems are in place for clinicians to take samples for microbiology testing before starting antimicrobial therapy, when clinically indicated, and for the results to be available to clinicians in a timely manner.