The role of microbiological diagnosis in antimicrobial stewardship: opportunities for improvement

Clinical Associate Professor Susan M Benson1,2

1PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA, J Block, Hospital Avenue, NEDLANDS WA 6009,

2University of Western Australia


Accurate microbiological diagnosis of infection is a critical component of antimicrobial stewardship but is easily overlooked in AMS strategies. In Australian AMS audits less than 15 % of hospital based antibiotic prescribing is based on microbiology test results. Microbiology tests are used to select, de-escalate or stop antimicrobial therapy. Suboptimal use of microbiology tests can lead to underdiagnosis, misdiagnosis and overdiagnosis. Expert use of microbiology diagnostics requires appropriate ordering, specimen collection, communication with the laboratory and astute interpretation of the results. This presentation will discuss these issues and present recommendations for an enhanced role that infection control practitioners can play in improving the diagnosis of infection, patient outcomes and better use of antimicrobials.

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