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Requesting tests

Electronic patient record (EPR)

For patients of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, please use the electronic patient record (EPR) to request Microbiology Laboratory tests.

There is information for OUH staff on the OUH intranet for EPR support, training and downtime procedures.

Ensure you make the request for the correct patient and select the correct patient episode.

This provides the lab with patient identification (NHS number, hospital number, name and date of birth), patient location and consultant.

Select Requests and Prescribing from the menu on the left-hand side of the screen.

Click on Add to make a new request.

Use MCS to search for types of culture request, PCR to search for molecular assays etc.


type the type of sample or culture request into the Find search box e.g.

  • Blood culture MCS
  • Urine MCS
  • Wound swab
  • Pus / deep wound / fluid / abscess / aspirate MCS
  • Mycobacteria culture MCS
  • HCV Ab screen
  • CMV IgG

Surface swab MCS is the correct option for eye, ear, throat, ulcer and skin swabs.

Click on the appropriate option that appears in the box below and select Done to add the test.

Provide appropriate clinical details including:

  • brief clinical history and date of onset
  • risk factors for infection (e.g. immunocompromised, drugs, intravenous drug use)
  • travel history, if relevant
  • any prior, present, or planned antimicrobial therapy.

Provide your bleep or contact number so that you can be contacted if there are any problems or significant positive results.

Confirm the request by clicking Sign.

Label each sample with the label printed via EPR.

Sunquest ICE

For patients in primary care in Oxfordshire, SunquestICEâ„¢ should be used to request Microbiology Laboratory tests electronically.

Ensure the correct date and time of the sample collection is entered on the request.

Please provide key clinical details as this will help the laboratory to ensure the most appropriate tests are performed.

  • Select Requesting tab followed by New Request icon and Microbiology tab
  • Microbiology tests are listed in alphabetical order: select Search tab to perform a quick search
  • For antenatal panels select GP - Antenatal tab
  • Ensure that the correct date and time of sample collection is entered on request and samples are labelled appropriately

Request forms

When electronic requesting is not available, there is a standard request card suitable for all specimens.

Request forms are available to GPs from the OUH Haematology Laboratory.

Tel: +44 (0) 1865 220336

Microbiology request cards are blue. It is important to use the correct request card, so that samples are directed to the correct laboratory.

Ensure forms are filled in correctly, as this helps reduce data entry errors, speed up turnaround times and ensure correct locations for reports and invoices.

The NHS number and hospital number are used to link samples to patients' records, so it is essential that this information is recorded on all requests.

Ideally the request form should have all the following essential pieces of information.

  • Unique identification number e.g. hospital number or NHS number
  • Surname / forename
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Patient location and destination for report
  • Name of requesting consultant, GP or requesting practitioner
  • Investigation required
  • Date and time sample was collected

Samples with no location specified, and that we are unable to allocate to a location, will not be processed, and held for a maximum of seven days.

Urgent tests

Urgent specimens should be transported as rapidly as possible to Microbiology.

Clinical advice / Urgent requests - Contact us

Although we provide a 24/7 service, outside of the laboratory core hours, the following specimens will be prioritised.

  • Urgent cultures from sterile sites (e.g. CSF, joint aspirates, pus/tissue collected at operation)
  • Virology investigations prior to organ transplantation

Additional tests

To request additional tests on samples already received in the laboratory, please contact the laboratory or Microbiology SpR.

The timeframe within which additional tests can be added depends on the nature of the sample.

Sample type Stored for
Urine 2 days
Stool 7 days
Pus 7 days
Respiratory 7 days
CSF Minimum 2 weeks
Serum Minimum 2 months
Prosthetic device 7 days
Significant blood culture isolates > 1 year

Last reviewed:09 February 2023