Transporting specimens to the laboratory

Specimens must never be carried or transported directly in the hand or in a coat pocket. Minimize direct handling of specimens in transit from the patient to the laboratory. Specimens must be transported to the laboratory in a manner that ensures timely arrival at the laboratory at a minimal risk to the person transporting the specimen, laboratory and non-laboratory personnel and the environment.

Specimens should be placed in plastic sealable bags with a separate pouch for the specimen request form. When transporting multiple specimens of blood or other potentially infectious materials within the UTH, an appropriate transport container (example in Figure 1 below) must be used. Ensure that the container is labelled with a BIOHAZARD label.

As a general guide, ensure that routine and urgent samples are received in the laboratory within 2 hours and 1 hour of collection, respectively. Refer to relevant laboratory units in Section 16 of this handbook for further requirements on specimen handling, transportation and storage.