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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Reading and Reporting Gram Stained Direct Smears. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Reporting Microscopic Findings

Gram-stained direct smears are examined using the oil immersion objective of the microscope (total magnification =1000x). The quantity and type of bacteria and nonbacterial cellular elements present are recorded. A minimum of ten microscopic fields should be examined before reporting the Gram stain result.
Organisms and other cells that are observed on a Gram-stained smear should be reported with as much description as possible.

In addition to staining reaction, the shape of the organisms should be reported (e.g., cocci or bacilli). It may also be useful to report the cellular arrangement of microorganisms on the smear; however, you should follow your laboratory's procedure for reporting cellular arrangements.
Cellular arrangements may be described as:
  • Single cells
  • Pairs
  • Tetrads
  • Chains
  • Clusters
  • Budding (in the case of yeast)