AIM--To ascertain the perception of laboratory users regarding the quality of the medical microbiology services in a district general hospital. METHODS--Detailed questionnaires were circulated to all clinicians in the locality, with headings covering the quality of medical advice provided, the availability of information on specimen collection, format of request forms, specimen transport arrangements, turnaround times, the quality and need for interpretative advice, and the overall impression of the quality of the services provided. RESULTS--Two hundred and thirty five replies were received, giving a response rate of 69%. Transportation of specimens and communication of reports were identified as priority areas for improvement. The overall quality of the service was perceived as satisfactory, although areas were identified where substantial improvements could be made, some at little or no cost to the laboratory. CONCLUSIONS--The survey focused clinicians' attention on the service, raised the profile of the laboratory, and resulted in improved communications and a better understanding of customer needs. Overall, the exercise was felt to be extremely useful, and worthwhile repeating to gauge the effect of the changes instituted as a result.
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