One of the most important functions that a microbiologist performs is to decide what is clinically relevant regarding specimen workup. Considerable judgment is required to decide what organisms to look for and report. It is essential to recognize what constitutes indigenous (normal) flora and what constitutes a potential pathogen. Indiscriminate reporting of normal flora can contribute to unnecessary use of antibiotics and potential emergence of resistant organisms. Because organisms that are clinically relevant to identify and report vary by source, the microbiologist should know which ones cause disease at various sites. Part VII contains a detailed discussion of these issues.
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