Updates to the UK Standards for Microbiology Investigations

Updates to the UK Standards for Microbiology Investigations
6 February 2023
NHS England and the UK SMI have developed two co-aligning documents to tackle the growing issue of antimicrobial resistance.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is responsible for protecting the public from the impact of infectious diseases, nuclear incidents, and all other health threats. Under the UKHSA umbrella, the UK Standards for Microbiology Investigations (UK SMI) act as a referenced collection of procedures and algorithms for clinical microbiology.

The UK SMI aims to reflect the changes in testing methods of the whole specimen pathway in the microbiology field. A recent UK SMI document has been developed, ‘UK SMI 12’, detailing procedures on investigating sepsis and systemic or disseminated infections. 

This document highlights the changes needed in both clinical and laboratory practise to improve the sensitivity and utility of blood cultures. 

Co-aligning with the SMI document, NHS England’s Blood Culture Implementation Task and Finish Group has updated the UK’s national standards for collecting and processing blood cultures as well. 

Importantly, the two documents aim to tackle the growing public health issue of antimicrobial resistance and inappropriate use of antimicrobials. 

Debra Padgett, IBMS President, comments, “We welcome the update to the SMI, taking into the account the recently published NHSE ‘Improving the blood culture pathway’ guidelines.”

The UK SMI 12 document details several key steps to blood culture collection and analysis; including guidelines for collecting an adequate volume of blood, the point at which samples should be collected, and how to transport blood culture sample bottles to relevant laboratories for further investigation. 

See the full UK SMI 12 document (‘Sepsis and systemic or disseminated infections’) here >>

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