Laboratory results are the key output of every microbiology laboratory and designing our systems to give a timely, comprehensive and accurate result is important to us. One of the measures we use to assess this is the turn-around time. Public Health Wales have an agreed set of standard times for each specimen type and the aim is to report 95% of samples within the standard time for the sample. Times vary depending on many factors and there will always be samples that cannot be reported within the timescales set, which is why we seek to get 95% within the timescale.
Who gets the results?
Results always go back to the originator of the request. This is because the assessment of a result must always be viewed in the light of the clinical picture associated with the patient. While each laboratory prides itself on the quality and accuracy of the result, they cannot be read in isolation from the clinical picture. For this reason, if a patient ‘phones the laboratory for a result, the request is respectfully declined and the patient asked to make contact with the originator of the request i.e. the clinician who requested the test. Only the clinician who asked for the test is in a position to explain the result in relation to the patients condition.
In the IT enable era we now live in, results are transmitted electronically to GP surgeries and to the hospital wards. Electronic reporting goes on throughout the day, every day, including weekends. An electronic run is triggered automatically every hour. This helps ensure that the results arrive in a timely manner to the requester.
With a change in the law in 2009, laboratories are required to notify when they isolate certain micro-organisms from a specimen due to potential of public health implications. In this respect, patients may need to be advised that colleagues from the health protection team or local council environmental health departments may need to contact them to investigate the isolation of the organism. The following is a list from the legislation that we are expected to notify:
Bacillus cereus (only if associated with food poisoning)
Clostridium perfringens (only if associated with food poisoning)
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus
Haemophilus influenzae (invasive)
Hepatitis A, B, C, delta, and E viruses
Kyasanur Forest disease virus
Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex
Omsk haemorrhagic fever virus
Plasmodium falciparum, vivax, ovale, malariae, knowlesi
Polio virus (wild or vaccine types)
Rabies virus (classical rabies) and rabies-related lyssaviruses
Rift Valley fever virus
Streptococcus pneumoniae (invasive)
Streptococcus pyogenes (invasive)
Varicella zoster virus
VerocytotoxigenicEscherichia coli (including E.coli O157)
West Nile Virus
Yellow fever virus