Six strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae were distributed to 405 United Kingdom laboratories who were asked to test the susceptibility of the strains to penicillin, tetracycline, chloramphenicol and erythromycin and to provide details of methodology to test the standards of susceptibility testing. High error rates were seen only in failure to detect moderate resistance to penicillin (12%) and resistance to chloramphenicol (16%). Increased error rates were associated with several methods or practices. These included the use of certain culture media; failure to standardise the inoculum; inoculation by loop rather than by swab; failure to use control organisms; failure to measure zone sizes; the use of discs containing a high content of penicillin to test susceptibility to penicillin, and the use of high content discs for testing erythromycin, tetracycline, and chloramphenicol.
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