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Transport of Specimens

Pathology specimens should be sent via the post tube to the laboratory or delivered by hand and left at the reception desk.  Please do not, under any circumstances, leave specimens anywhere else in the Pathology buildings.

All samples sent to the laboratory should be packed so as to comply with the Carriage Dangerous Goods (Classification, Packaging and Labelling) Regulations 1996

General Guidance

  • Specific transport requirements are identified where applicable in the test database for individual tests ( Please check here if you are unsure.
  • Use containers provided by Laboratory Medicine. These are designed to be robust and not leak in normal use.
  • Ensure that the container is appropriate for the purpose, is closed and not contaminated on the outside.
  • After labelling, the samples should be placed in individual plastic transport bags and sealed, not secured with clips or staples
  • Please do not place the request form with the sample, instead separately in the side pocket.
  • Any microbiology samples that may be unduly delayed in sending to the laboratory should be refrigerated.
  • All specimens sent for blood borne viral load tests should reach the laboratory within 6 hours unless the specimen has already been separated and the plasma removed.

Samples may be sent to the Laboratory in the following ways:

On site transport

  • Specifically designed for purpose, specimen transport boxes are used to transport samples within the Trust, by an on site portering service to Laboratory Medicine reception
  • If a spillage occurs and is not contained within the specimen transport carrier please ring the number provided on the side of the box and assistance will be provided.
  • Do not leave a spill unattended
  • A pneumatic air tube system can be used to transport samples. This system should not be used to send urgent Microbiology samples such as CSFs as it is possible these samples may go astray resulting in a delay in processing and therefore provision of results. Samples containing large volumes of liquid (>50ml) such as blood cultures should not be sent by tube because disinfection following leakage is extremely difficult to achieve.

Off site arrangements

  • There is a daily courier pick up system, provided by the Trust for General Practitioners.
  • This service is subject to safety audit and inspection. Assistance for dealing with spillage can be obtained by phoning the numbers on the transport carriers
  • There is a Hospital transport system linking the laboratory to other hospitals and clinics Trust wide.

External samples for phe microbiology

  • Samples can be sent to Microbiology using the Hays Dx system

       Our Hays Dx information is : West Midlands Public Health Laboratory

                                                                                                               DX 6780100

                                                                                                               BIRMINGHAM B

  • Postal system. Diagnostic samples and Category 'B' organisms can be sent via the Royal Mail providing the above regulations are followed.
  • Category A specimens should not be sent through the post. For a definitive list of these microorganisms see Biological Agents: Managing the Risks Appendix 1.2 Table A2. These document is available on
  • For samples that require a special courier service as per published guidelines for example: Influenzas H5N1 and H7N9, please contact the Duty Virologist (Bleep 2821) via switchboard who will provide you with the relevant information.


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