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December 8, 1978

Inaccuracy of House Staff in Reading Throat Cultures

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Medicine (Drs Glass and Fischer), and Microbiology (Dr Bottone), Mount Sinai Hospital, New York.

JAMA. 1978;240(24):2651-2652. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290240051024

The low prevalence of streptococcal pharyngitis in our pediatric clinic during a normally high-prevalence period encouraged us to examine the accuracy of throat culture readings made by the house staff. Six pediatric residents processed 256 cultures, which were then reinterpreted by a microbiologist. The residents consistently underread the cultures, failing to identify 68 (60%) of 112 with β-hemolysis and 23 (58%) of 40 with a zone of bacitracin inhibition. This inaccuracy in interpretation of throat cultures emphasizes the physician's need to periodically reassess these skills.

(JAMA 240:2651-2652, 1978)