© Borgis - Nowa Medycyna 2/2009, s. 153-154
Cooperation between the clinical microbiologist and the clinician during the process of diagnosis and treatment of respiratory tract infections – how it works in Denmark
Department of Clinical Microbiology, Hvidovre University Hospital, Copenhagen Denmark
Denmark has a population of 5.3 million people. We have 15 departments of Clinical Microbiology.
All laboratories are public service laboratories located in public hospitals. The Departments of Clinical Microbiology (DCM) are serving the hospitals and the private hospitals, the private doctors and the medical specialists. The staff consists of clinical microbiologists (CM-RMD), i.e. registered medical doctors with a specialist degree in clinical microbiology after 5 years training in clinical microbiology (1), further more the staff consists of molecular biologists and technicians with bachelor degrees.
The Departments of Clinical Microbiology vary in size and services. Dept. of Clinical Microbiology Hvidovre Hospital is one of the biggest in the country receiving 450 000 specimens per year from 6 hospitals with a total of 2100 beds, and from 580 doctors and specialists. DCM investigates the specimens, make the microbiological diagnoses, send out the answers by electronic laboratory system to the costumers. All the doctors at the DCM also function as consultants both for the hospital wards and the private doctors. DCM has a staff of 15 medical doctors of whom 8 are specialists in clinical microbiology and 7 doctors under clinical microbiological training. All doctors have telephone conferences with clinicians and practitioners and the specialists visit the wards for clinical conferences and patient rounds together with the clinicians.
The main tasks for the clinical microbiologists are:
– To diagnose infectious diseases in the laboratory using specimens from patients.
– To give advise to clinicians and nurses in the hospital wards in connection with diagnostic procedures, treatment of infections and prevention of infections.
– To make and implement hospital infection control programs.
– To make antimicrobial treatment policies in collaboration with the clinical wards taking the local sensitivity patterns into account.
– To educate medical microbiologists, hygiene nurses and technicians.
– To educate doctors and nurses.
– To participate in research.
Cooperation taking the specimens
For the clinicians to make the definite diagnosis of the infections of the patients it is essential that the DCM receives the appropriate specimens. Specimens should be correctly taken and transported to the laboratory and processed timely in the correct way. To achieve this, it is necessary to have easy accessible datasheets from the DCM explaining to the wards/practitioners how to take the specimens, what transport media to use, and what clinical information´s should be given to the DCM. The datasheets also indicate how long the expected processing time would be for the specific sample, and when an answer could be expected.
To diagnose infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract, the DCM would get some of the following type of specimens: throat swabs, sputum´s, tracheal suctions and bronchial lavages for culture and sensitivity testing and event. PCR: for virus, L. pneumophila, Mycoplasma, Chlamydia sp., blood cultures for aerobic and anaerobic culture and urine for antigen detection can if positive also give the diagnosis of the respiratory tract infection.
Choosing the diagnostic procedures for the specimens, and clinical investigations
The DCM has standard procedures for investigations of the majority of ordinary specimens. From some wards the patients and thereby their specimens require special attention and treatment.
Many patients in intensive care units (ICUs) and lung departments have acute life threatening infections where the correct empiric, treatment before the diagnosis of the infection is confirmed, can be life saving. Here it is essential that there is a close contact and dialog between the clinician and the clinical microbiologist. The contact may be by telephone or at clinical conferences.
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