Microbiology and LAB service involve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the spread of infection in hospitals and the community. Both these specialties are laboratory-based, but make a major contribution to clinical infection management.

Common procedures/interventions

Microbiologists and virologists don’t usually work directly with patients in person, but liaise between clinical colleagues in the hospital, GPs and laboratory staff.

For more complex tests, microbiologists and virologists may undertake hands-on bench work in the laboratory.

Microbiologists use techniques that include:

  • Traditional culture techniques such as microbiological stains
  • Measuring antibody response to infection
  • Detection of microbial antigens
  • Nucleic acid amplification (polymerase chain reaction)
  • Antigen detection techniques
  • High-throughput nucleic acid extraction techniques

Laboratory staff will then provide the results of cultures of blood and sterile fluids that have become positive overnight. Urgent and important results are communicated directly to clinical colleagues