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Best practice in primary care pathology: review 12
  1. W S A Smellie1,
  2. C A M McNulty2,
  3. P O Collinson3,
  4. N Shaw4,
  5. R Bowley4
  1. 1Department of Chemical Pathology, Bishop Auckland General Hospital, Bishop Auckland, UK
  2. 2Health Protection Agency Primary Care Unit, Department of Microbiology, Gloucester Royal Hospital, Gloucester, UK
  3. 3Department of Chemical Pathology, St Georges Hospital, London, UK
  4. 4Sowerby Centre for Health Informatics, All Saints Business Centre, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to W S A Smellie, Department of Chemical Pathology, Bishop Auckland General Hospital, Cockton Hill Road, Bishop Auckland, County Durham DL14 6AD, UK; info{at}


This twelfth best practice review examines four series of common primary care questions in laboratory medicine: (i) antiepileptic drug monitoring; (ii) infectious diarrhoea; (iii) methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus; and (iv) brain natriuretic peptide. The review is presented in question–answer format, referenced for each question series. The recommendations represent a précis of guidance found using a standardised literature search of national and international guidance notes, consensus statements, health policy documents and evidence-based medicine reviews, supplemented by MEDLINE EMBASE searches to identify relevant primary research documents. They are not standards but form a guide to be set in the clinical context. Most are consensus rather than evidence-based. They will be updated periodically to take account of new information.

  • Epilepsy
  • heart
  • microbiology
  • MRSA

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  • Funding This work has been supported (in alphabetical order) by the Association of Clinical Biochemists*, Association of Clinical Pathologists*, Association of Medical Microbiologists, British Society for Haematology, Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Pathologists* and the Sowerby Centre for Health Informatics in Newcastle (SCHIN), representatives of whom have contributed to the reviewing process (*these organisations contributed direct funding to support the project start-up). The opinions stated are however those of the authors.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.