Clinical Microbiology and Infection vol:11 Suppl 1 pages:41-5
Clinical microbiology should have a physical presence, but not necessarily on-site diagnostic laboratory facilities, in each hospital to ensure a quality laboratory-based infection service and strong professional interaction with clinicians. The adoption of industrial practices and the introduction of new costly molecular techniques raise the possibility that non-microbiological functions of laboratory management could be left to management professionals. This remains highly controversial; the advantages must be contrasted with the potential to disrupt the traditional managerial responsibility of the microbiologist and the links between the laboratory and clinical staff. Managers and healthcare professionals must resolve this issue, perhaps with the support of the ESCMID. Views varied, according to current professional arrangements and size of the laboratory and population served, on whether there should be a common laboratory for microbiology and other pathology disciplines with joint access to new high-technology techniques, or whether microbiology must continue as a separate facility. Clinical microbiology and infection control were viewed as core services that must be present even in smaller hospitals. Larger community hospitals and teaching centres require a full complement of expertise in laboratory and clinical practice. Integration of these disciplines within a department of infection is an emerging concept. A concern was the shortfall in trained expertise because of the ageing nature of current specialists. The importance of recruiting talented new graduates was emphasised. The importance of this topic led to a recommendation that an ESCMID working party be established to investigate the current arrangements of infection services in Europe and to make recommendations for the future organisation.