IN PART I of this series, attention was drawn to the pitfalls physicians may encounter in the submission of specimens that are commonly contaminated with indigenous and colonizing bacteria. These pitfalls apply especially to specimens from the respiratory tract, superficial wounds, draining lesions, and the female genital tract. It is difficut to obtain material from the site of presumptive infection without contaminating it with the bacteria that are present on skin or mucous membranes. Not only are urine and sputum specimens often collected by the patient, but the specimens often are not seen by either nurses or physicians to assess evidence of gross contamination. However, criteria can be applied to the examination of these specimens in the laboratory to establish the probability that any bacteria that may be isolated will more likely reflect contamination than infection.1 In such cases, microbiologists should request collection of another specimen, emphasizing special effort
Bartlett RC. Making Optimum Use of the Microbiology Laboratory: II. Urine, Respiratory, Wound, and Cervicovaginal Exudate. JAMA. 1982;247(9):1336–1338. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320340086049
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