Preferred Sample Type


Suitable Specimen Types

  • Faeces
  • Vomit
at least 500ul or a pea-sized sample

Turnaround Time

3 days

Sample Stability

Stored for 2 months


General Information

Samples from suspected outbreaks are pooled and tested. A minimum of 2 and maximum of 5 samples per outbreak. Additional samples will not be tested.

Patient Preparation

Instructions for patient self-collection of faeces sample:PATIENT SELF COLLECTED STOOL

Instructions for faeces sample collection in hospital:

  • Ask patient to defaecate into a clinically clean bedpan or receiver.
  • If the patient has been incontinent: a sample may be obtained from bedlinen or pads: try to avoid contamination with urine.
  • Using the integrated ‘spoon’ in the sample pot lid, scoop enough faecal material to fill a third of the specimen container (or 10–15 mL of liquid stool).
  • Apply specimen container lid securely. 
  • Label sample and complete microbiology request form (including relevant information such as onset and duration of diarrhoea, fever or recent foreign travel).
  • Dispatch sample to the laboratory as soon as possible or refrigerate at 4–8°C and dispatch within 12 hours.

Vomit swabs

  • Use a red topped virology transport medium kit (labelled as Oxoid IDEIA Chlamydia kit).
  • Dip swab into vomit.
  • Place the swab in the transport liquid and snap off the swab shaft at the score line so it fits into the sample pot.
  • Close the cap tightly and label with patient information.


Test performed as part of a notified norovirus outbreak. Please obtain an outbreak number from lab before sending samples. Swabs of vomit may be submitted as part of an outbreak.


  • EQA Scheme?: Yes
  • EQA Status: QCMD

Copyright heftpathology 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

HTA licence number is 12366

Protection of Personal Information – Laboratory Medicine comply with the Trust Data Protection Policy and have procedures in place to allow the Directorate and it’s employees to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 and associated best practice and guidance.

The Trust Laboratories at Heartlands Hospital, Good Hope Hospital and Solihull Hospital were awarded UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) accreditation to the internationally recognised ISO 15189 standard in May 2015. For a list of accredited tests and other information please visit the test database
Tests not appearing on this scope are either under consideration or in the process of accreditation and so currently remain outside of our scope of accreditation. However, these tests have been validated to the same high standard as accredited tests and are performed by the same trained and competent staff.

For further information contact Louise Fallon, Quality Manager, 0121 424 1235

UKAS Logos