Reading Gram Stained Smears From Cultures (by LabCE)

1.5 P.A.C.E. contact hour(s)

(based on 1,411 customer ratings)

Authors: Betty Smith, MT(ASCP); Mary Ann Fiene, MSMT(ASCP); Rukhsana Evans, MSMT(ASCP)
Reviewer: Judi Bennett, MT, BSM

Course provided by LabCE.

This course explains how to intelligently evaluate and interpret gram stained smears from cultures. Good for clinical laboratory science students, cross training, and CE. Covers gram positive and gram negative bacilli; single, pair, chain, and tetrad cell arrangements; and reporting.

See more courses in: Microbiology

Included In These Course Packages

Continuing Education Credits

P.A.C.E.® Contact Hours (acceptable for AMT, ASCP, and state recertification): 1.5 hour(s)
Course number 578-048-18, approved through 8/31/2020
Florida Board of Clinical Laboratory Personnel Credit Hours - General (Microbiology/Mycology/Parasitology): 1.5 hour(s)
Course number 20-631315, approved through 9/1/2020


  • Explain the importance of Gram stained smears from isolated colonies.
  • Discuss the procedure for reading smears from cultures with respect to Gram stain reaction, shape of the organism, and arrangement of the cells.
  • Identify microorganisms as gram-positive or gram-negative and be able to describe their shape and cell arrangement.
  • Demonstrate ability to interpret Gram stained smears from various cultures and report appropriately.

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Course Outline

  • Introduction to Reading Gram Stained Culture Smears
      • Culture, Isolation, and Identification of Microorganisms
  • General Aspects of Gram Stained Smears From Culture
      • Gram Stain
      • Preparation of a Gram Stained Smear From Culture
      • Quality Control (QC)
      • Gram Stain Quality Control (QC) Organisms
      • Examining the Smear
  • Organism Shapes in Gram Stained Culture Smears
      • Cocci and Rods
      • Variations in the Shape of Cocci
      • Variation in the Shape of Bacilli
      • Gram-Negative Rods (GNRs)
  • Arrangement of Organisms in Gram Stained Culture Smears
      • Cellular Arrangement
      • Single Cell Arrangement
      • Pair Cell Arrangement
      • Chain Cell Arrangement
      • Tetrad Cell Arrangement
      • Clusters of Gram-Positive Bacteria
      • Yeast Cells
  • Gram Stain Characteristics and Organisms Expected From Common Body Sites
      • Gram-Positive Organisms Recovered From Culture
      • Images: Gram-Positive Cocci (GPC) Recovered From Culture
      • Images: Gram-Positive Rods (GPRs) Recovered From Culture
      • Gram-Negative Organisms Recovered From Culture
      • Images: Gram-Negative Organisms Recovered From Culture
      • Expected Pathogens From Common Body Sites/Specimens
      • Expected Pathogens From Common Body Sites/Specimens, continued
      • Expected Pathogens From Common Body Sites/Specimens, continued
  • Reporting Gram Stained Culture Smears
      • Gram-Stained Smears From Culture: Importance and Reporting
  • Case Studies in Reading Gram Stained Smears From Cultures
    • References
        • References

    Additional Information

    Level of Instruction: Basic

    Intended Audience: Clinical laboratory science students, and medical tehcnologists and technicians seeking review, cross training, or continuing education opportunities. It is also appropriate for medical students and pathology residents.

    Course Description: This illustrated course cover the basics of reading gram stained smears from cultures, including interpretation of controls, reading, interpreting and reported Gram stained culture smears. It is illustrated with numerous images of actual culture Gram stains, and contains numerous interactive quiz questions.

    About the Course: This course is part of a series of courses adapted for the web by MediaLab Inc. under license from Educational Materials for Health Professionals Inc. Dayton OH, 45420. Copyright EMHP. It has been reviewed and revised by MediaLab Inc. in March 2016.

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    Course provided by LabCE.
    Staph aureus

    <i>Staphylococcus aureus</i> isolated from culture

    <i>Lactobacillus</i> species isolated from culture

    Gram pos cocci

    GPC for question

    Gram Negative Bacilli

    Oval shaped cocci

    Gram Positive Cocci in Clusters

    ASCLS CE's design and platform are provided by MediaLab, Inc.