The laboratory processes a broad range of specimens for the diagnosis of bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections.
Each of the department’s seven consultants is a Consultant Medical Microbiologists (CMM) and between them they have substantial experience of providing a laboratory- and ward-based infection service.
All positive results are authorized by a CMM with due attention to the release of antibiotic susceptibility results for antibiotic stewardship.
Each of the King’s CMMs has an area of specific interest reflecting the complex-in-patient mix at King’s: liver failure and transplantation; the immunocompromised including haemato-oncology (and invasive aspergillosis specifically); infective endocarditis; critical care units; complex orthopaedic infections / trauma; diabetic foot infections; neurosurgical infection and sexually-transmitted infections. Our laboratory also has substantial experience in processing and interpreting clinical specimens from respiratory medicine, cardiothoracic surgery, dermatology, renal medicine, neonatology, paediatrics and Accident & Emergency. For several of these services the laboratory offers a ‘bespoke’ service with customised standard operating procedures and this flexibility is available to external customers.
The diagnostic laboratory is a UKAS accredited medical laboratory no. 9863 and is a key part of the infection service provided at King’s. Co-location of CMMs and the laboratory ensures seamless processing and interpretation. Biomedical scientists (BMSs) have immediate access to senior medical colleagues for advice, and CMMs can review specimens, slides and plates during processing and before authorization. This model permits short turnaround times and a service of the highest possible quality.
The laboratory processes around 350,000 specimens a year - with approximately 30% being direct access - and benefits from a cadre of very experienced BMSs familiar with the processing and interpretation of complex specimens. Appropriate automation (such as BacT/ALERT, Vitek 2, automated urinalysis etc) realizes cost-efficacy whilst maintaining essential bacteriology skills ‘in house’.
As well as microscopy, culture, identification and susceptibility testing the laboratory offers testing for pnemococcus and legionella urinary antigens, cryptococcal antigen (blood & CSF), Helicobacter pylori stool antigen and, for Clostridium difficile, an ELISA, GDH and confirmatory PCR. The laboratory has an expanding portfolio of tests for the culture, serological and PCR diagnosis of superficial and systemic fungal infections.
Research and Development
As well as the general bacteriology laboratory space, there is well equipped R&D laboratory and two modern and spacious CL3 laboratories. Specific areas of interest include infection in liver disease and transplantation (especially invasive yeast infections), multiply-resistant healthcare-associated pathogens; diagnostics for invasive pulmonary aspergillosis, survival and susceptibility of Neisseria gonorrhoeae, bacterial vaginosis, infections in cystic fibrosis , rapid pathogen diagnostics and dermatophyte pathogenicity and diagnosis.
The laboratory retains the ability to prepare and develop solid and liquid microbiological media and manipulate micro-organisms for research, development and funded projects.