How the scheme works:
On the first working day of each month a new scenario will appear on the website. Participants will be alerted by email that the scenario is available. Each scenario will represent a case study based on a real patient. Participants will be invited to suggest a diagnosis or a differential diagnosis, to recommend diagnostic interventions (both microbiological and non-microbiological, where appropriate), to interpret any results that are provided, to advise on therapeutic interventions (including surgery, if appropriate) and to identify any infection control and/or public health implications. The responses will be limited to 500 characters. The scenarios will be alternate monthly between those of a virological nature and those of a general bacteriological nature., Parasitology or mycology scenarios will be provided periodically; these will be at a level that is appropriate to microbiologists who are not specialists in these fields. There will also be occasional scenarios that specifically concern antibiotic susceptibility testing or antibiotic assays.
Ideally, responses should be from individuals, rather than from departments or from two or more individuals. Participants will have one month to respond. On the day after the deadline, the ‘model’ answer, representing a consensus of members of a panel of consultant microbiologists or an expert view from a recognised specialist in the field, together with educational information will be posted on the website. Individual reports and the anonymised responses of all of the participants will be available on the website approximately one week later. Participants will be alerted by email that the report is available.
Participation in the scheme is voluntary and individuals may choose not to respond to a particular scenario if, for example, it concerns a clinical speciality with which they are unfamiliar. However if a participant does not respond to at least two scenarios posted in a year their participation will be cancelled. It is not currently the intention to score the responses, although this will be a long-term objective, particularly if participation in the scheme becomes compulsory for purposes of revalidation.