Skip Navigation LinksCore Service > Lab Test Directory > Microbiology > Microbiology Laboratory Services

Microbiology Laboratory Services

Urgent requests

Samples requiring urgent analysis require a prior telephone call to the laboratory on ext. 4412.  Out of hours, please contact duty Biomedical Scientist via the Hospital Switchboard.



  • Name of the requesting doctor (printed) and the bleep number are essential on every request form.

  • Ensure patient details are legible on all copies of the form. Forms must include 4 patient identifiers. Samples with less than 4 identifiers will be rejected. This includes Forename/Surname/DOB/NHS or Hospital number.

  • Clinical details are essential to accompany every request to enable correct processing of specimens.  Specimens may be rejected without this information. 

  • All specimens must be sent to the laboratory in a sealed, plastic specimen bag, with a completed request form.

  • Unlabelled samples will NOT be processed.

  • Leaking specimens are a hazard to laboratory personnel and may be destroyed on receipt.

  • For all URGENT requests during laboratory opening hours, the appropriate laboratory should be contacted. The specimens should be taken directly to Pathology Specimen Reception and a member of staff alerted of their arrival.

  • If in doubt about any aspect of taking specimens for Microbiology or Virology, please telephone the relevant laboratory.

  • To discuss clinical cases and appropriate investigations please contact the Duty Consultant Microbiologist on the relevant site.


    Requesting procedure (routine, urgent, and out of hours)


    Completing the request form


  • Pathology request forms should be used for all requests that are not ICE generated.  ICE requests should be used in preference where available.
  • For urgent Virology requests please do not mix with requests for Biochemistry or Haematology requests, as these are processed first.  For specimens requiring both Cytology and Microbiology, please send separate specimens and request forms.

The form should be completed with all relevant information, including:


  • Patient NHS number (preferred) and/or hospital number
  • Patient name
  • Patient date of birth
  • Ward or clinic
  • Requesting doctor with contact/bleep number
  • Clinical details *
  • Tests required *
  • Date sample taken
  • Sample type

Please use labels whenever possible.


* If uncertain about the exact test and terminology, a detailed clinical history will enable the Microbiology staff to decide the most appropriate investigations.


Specimen labelling


  • The specimen must be labelled with the patient details as on the request form.
  • Please note that unlabelled specimens, or where request form and specimen labels do not match, cannot be processed and will be discarded.


Specimen containers


  • Blood for serology should be taken either without anticoagulant (for general serology) or with the appropriate anticoagulant.  Please contact the laboratory if you are uncertain about the appropriate blood container.
  • Swabs for virology investigations should be taken using the green-topped Virocult swabs.
  • Other specimens are collected in sterile containers in wards and clinics or from central stores.
  • Please see the Microbiology Test Directory for the correct containers required.


Transport to the laboratory

  • Samples should be sent to the lab along with other samples, either through the pod system, the porter collection system or delivered directly.

  • If specimens cannot be transported the same day, place all except Blood Cultures (room temperature) in a refridgerator.


Additional test requests

  • All plain bloods received into the serology laboratory are separated and the sera stored for approximately two years.  Additional tests are generally available during this period of storage if requested.  Please contact the laboratory for advice.  

  • The possibility of additional investigations to be performed on swab specimens or fluids within Bacteriology will depend on the nature of the specimen and the required test:
    • Phone the laboratory and give full patient and sample details.
    • The laboratory will check the quantity of sample remaining and also the age of the sample. The timeframe of testing will be dependent on the sample type.  
    • If enough sample remains and the sample is within an appropriate timeframe for the test a new request form will have to be submitted to the laboratory. Ensure that a comment of ‘Sample already in laboratory’ is added to the request form for clarification.