Criteria for the Acceptance of Specimens

Written by Craig Webster Created on Updated on .

Specialist information is required for Blood Bank, Cytology and Histology requests. See the individual laboratory section for their requirements.

Prior to venepuncture please ensure that all sample tubes have been stored to the manufacturers reccomendations and have not exceeded the expiry date shown on the label.

Please do not apply labels which overhang the sample or that have any form of barcode.

The table below indicates the mandatory/ essential data required on samples and request forms and outlines the desirable information which ideally should be included.

  Mandatory Essential Desirable
Specimens Patients full name or proper coded identifier Hospital PID, NHS number or date of birth (or requesting laboratory number when samples referred by another laboratory)     For samples such as swabs or fluids, inclusion of information on the site of the sample is required Other information listed under mandatory if not used as a mandatory option  Date and time taken Destination for report Sample type
  Mandatory Essential Desirable
Request form Patients full name or proper coded identifier as given on the specimen Hospital PID, NHS number or date of birth as given on the specimen or requesting laboratory number when samples referred by another laboratory)   Destination for the report Consultant or GP Date and time sample collected (when time factors affect results) Tests required Other information listed under mandatory if not used as a mandatory option. Clinical information Date and time sample collected  (when time factors do not affect results) Patients address Patients sex Name of requesting practitioner

Samples will not be accepted for processing if:

  1. The samples are unlabelled or incorrectly matched with the request form.
  2. The samples are received in a hazardous condition, i.e. leaked in to the bag
  3. Incorrect storage and/or transport of samples is obvious, e.g. incubated not refrigerated.

In order for specimens to be processed they must be labelled with a minimum of the following:

  1. Either the patient’s full name or a proper coded identifier
  2. The Hospital PID, NHS number or date of birth.

The request form must also contain both identifiers as used on the specimens.

For unlabelled urgent samples we will contact the requestor/ ward immediately.

Users are advised not to apply labels which overhang the sample or that have any form of barcode as this may cause delays in sample processing. Hospital PID is preferable for in or out patient specimens, NHS number is preferable for specimens from general practices.

Under no circumstances can a specimen be relabelled once it has been received in Laboratory Medicine. If a specimen has been rejected because it has not been deemed safe to process due to inadequate labelling then another specimen must be obtained for tests to be carried out.

In exceptional circumstances a decision to process insufficiently labelled specimens can be made by the duty biochemist, duty medical microbiologist/ virologist or a senior BMS for Haematology. When specimens which fail to comply with the mandatory criteria are processed responsibility for the results and for any action taken as a result of the report lies with the requesting practitioner.

 Table of importance of information provided with test requests

  Mandatory Essential Desirable
Specimens Patients full name or proper coded identifier Hospital PID, NHS number or date of birth (or requesting laboratory number when samples referred by another laboratory)     For samples such as swabs or fluids, inclusion of information on the site of the sample is required Other information listed under mandatory if not used as a mandatory option  Date and time taken Destination for report Sample type
  Mandatory Essential Desirable
Request form Patients full name or proper coded identifier as given on the specimen Hospital PID, NHS number or date of birth as given on the specimen or requesting laboratory number when samples referred by another laboratory)   Destination for the report Consultant or GP Date and time sample collected (when time factors affect results) Tests required Other information listed under mandatory if not used as a mandatory option. Clinical information Date and time sample collected  (when time factors do not affect results) Patients address Patients sex Name of requesting practitioner