The role of the Microbiology Department involves the isolation, identification, treatment and prevention of human infections by disease-causing organisms…

A doctor or nurse may obtain a sample using a cotton-wool swab, urine, faeces, skin and nail and send it to Microbiology for investigations to determine the presence of an infection. The majority of specimens used for such investigations are usually non-invasive and painless to obtain. On occasions a blood sample or tissue biopsy may be required, but these are obtained using painless surgical procedures.

Laboratory tests in Microbiology and Virology usually take 1-3 days to complete, but may require prolonged testing and in some instances may take several days to be completed. Some Serology tests are quicker and results may be available in hours.

There are modern purpose built Microbiology laboratories within the Pathology departments at Doncaster Royal Infirmary and Bassetlaw District General Hospital. Together, they provide a diagnostic service for the trusts hospitals, inpatient/outpatient clinics and surrounding GP surgeries

The Microbiology Department is divided into dedicated sections which include:

Bacteriology and Mycology

These departments detect the presence of infection caused by bacteria and fungi. A nurse or doctor may obtain a sample from a patient and send it to the department if it is suspected that an illness may be due to a bacterial or fungal infection. The laboratory isolates the micro-organism and tests which antibiotics or antifungals can be used to treat the infection.


The Virology Department detects the presence of infection caused by viruses. A nurse or doctor may obtain a sample from a patient and send it to Virology if it is suspected that an illness may be due to a viral infection. The laboratory cultures and identifies the virus to confirm the cause of a viral infection and therefore help the doctors treat the infection using antiviral drugs.

Influenza, Herpes and viruses causing the common cold are examples of viruses isolated by this department.


The Serology Department detects the presence of bacteria, fungi, and viruses from mainly blood samples using sophisticated automated instruments.

A nurse or doctor may take a small amount of blood from a patient to be analysed by the laboratory. A blood sample may also be taken to see if a patient has previously had or been exposed to an infection. Hepatitis, HIV and Chlamydia are examples of infections detected by the Serology Department.

Infection Control

Microbiology also works closely with the hospital infection control team to prevent the spread of Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile. Further information regarding Infection Control will be available shortly.

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