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Where do out-of-hours calls to a consultant microbiologist come from?
  1. H Humphreys
  1. Department of Clinical Microbiology, The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the Department of Microbiology, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  1. Professor H Humphreys, Department of Clinical Microbiology, Education and Research Centre, Beaumont Hospital, PO Box 9063, Dublin 9, Ireland; hhumphreys{at}


There is little in the literature about out-of-hours calls to medical microbiologists. The calls taken by a consultant medical microbiologist over a five-year period in an Irish tertiary referral hospital were reviewed. Excluding calls on weekend mornings and significant evening positive blood cultures, the mean annual number of calls on a one-in-four rota was 89 (range 70–111). Over 90% of calls were received before midnight and 51% were from specialist registrars. Medical specialties, neurosurgery and intensive care were the most common departments seeking advice. Two-thirds of calls related to the management of an individual patient, but advice on infection prevention and control is increasingly requested. Calls out-of-hours are not insignificant but little is known about how these vary between hospitals and what contribution they make to patient care.

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  • Competing interests: None.

  • Funding: The author was not in receipt of external funding to undertake this study. He is in receipt of research support from Steris Corporation, 3M and Inova8 Science and has received lecture fees from 3M and Novartis (Ireland).