Evaluation of Four Swab Transport Systems Against a Published Standard

BACKGROUND
Prior to the publication of the M40-A standard by the United States National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards (NCCLS)[1] no quality control data for swab transport systems (STS) had been available.
AIMS
To compare 4 commercially available STS against the published standard in order to ascertain bacterial survival after a set holding time.
INTRODUCTION
A potential for delayed transportation to the laboratory is now more likely with the centralisation of laboratory services, use of evening surgeries and community based clinics. It is imperative that STS provide optimised preservation of bacteria in order to produce an accurate diagnosis for the timely treatment of bacterial infection. Prior to production of the M40-A standard there had been no recognised standard for the performance of swab transport systems. The standard now provides a method of quality control testing together with acceptance criteria not only for viability but also for overgrowth of bacteria. In the absence of a standard procedure for determining the effectiveness of swab transport systems, previous papers on this subject have only been able to provide comparative data. The new standard resolves this by defining whether a product is acceptable in terms of bacterial survival.

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