In Europe, each year, more than four milion patients acquire a healthcare-associated infection (HAI) and almost 40 thousand die as a direct consequence of it. Regardless of many stategies to prevent and control HAIs, they remain an important cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide with a significant economic impact: a recent estimate places it at the ten billion dollars/year. The control of HAIs requires a prompt and efficient identification of the etiological agent and a rapid communication with the clinician. The Microbiology Laboratory has a significant role in the prevention and control of these infections and is a key element of any Infection Control Program. The work of the Microbiology Laboratory covers microbial isolation and identification, determination of antimicrobial susceptibility patterns, epidemiological surveillance and outbreak detection, education, and report of quality assured results. In this paper we address the role and importance of the Microbiology Laboratory in the prevention and control of HAI and in Antibiotic Stewardship Programs and how it can be leveraged when combined with the use of information systems. Additionally, we critically review some challenges that the Microbiology Laboratory has to deal with, including the selection of analytic methods and the proper use of communication channels with other healthcare services.

Original languageEnglish
Article number855
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2016


  • Antibiotic stewardship
  • Antibiotics
  • Communication
  • Control
  • Healthcare-associated infections
  • Information systems
  • Microbiology
  • Prevention


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