It has been recommended that samples submitted for microbiological examination should be retained for 48 hours after issue of the final report. In order to ascertain whether reproducible results could be achieved following storage of sputum specimens, two laboratories each re-cultured 100 samples 48 hours after their report had been issued and a further laboratory re-cultured 100 samples 48 hours after receipt. Discordant results were obtained in only 5-25% of specimens, indicating that potential respiratory pathogens could survive storage.
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