Specimen Collection & Handling
The proper collection of a specimen for analysis or culture is the most important step in the testing process. An improperly collected specimen may lead to failure to isolate a causative organism or result in the reporting of clinically inaccurate test results.
Identify the patient using no less than two identifiers. The identifiers must be patient-specific and must be directly associated with the individual.
For Outpatients who do not wear an armband, please use the patient's full stated name and stated DOB against physician's written orders, requisition or chart. Patients that are incapacitated, disabled, or have special needs, will still need to be identified by using two identifiers. These identifiers would be asked of the patient's parents, guardian or caregiver.
For Inpatients, match information on wristband to requisition, specifically the name and medical record number. If patient is without a wristband, locate a nurse and ask that a wristband be placed on the patient. If the patient's labs are needed "STAT," place a green ID band on the patient before collecting the specimen.
All specimens submitted to the laboratory for testing must be labeled with the following information:
- Patient's first and last name
- Location of collection
- Date/Time of specimen collection
- Specimen source
- Initials or identification number of person collecting specimen
All Microbiology specimens MUST have a source written on the accompanying requisition. This is necessary to ensure that the proper testing is ordered and the appropriate media is used for culturing.
If the labeling on the specimen is incomplete, the person responsible will be contacted to identify and properly label the specimen. If the specimen is received with no label or mislabeled, the person responsible will be notified and a new specimen must be obtained and submitted to the laboratory for testing. Unlabeled specimens may not be labeled once they are received in the laboratory.
Collection of Specimens
A physician should perform any collection method requiring an invasive technique. A physician specialist with advanced training skills should perform some specimen collection techniques. These types of collections are not covered in this section. View information regarding micro specimen collection. Specific guidelines regarding specimen collection for nursing personnel, ancillary staff involved in routine collections, or patient instruction for proper collection of specimens can be found here.
Specimens for culture should be transported to the Laboratory as soon as possible after collection or placed in preservatives or special transport containers. Refer to individual test requirements for special handling instructions if transport must be delayed.
Cause for Specimen Rejection
- Unlabeled or Mislabeled Specimens
- Improper Collection Container
- Inadequate Specimen Volume (QNS)
- Hemolyzed Specimen
- Clotted Whole Blood Specimens
- Improper Handling or Delayed Transport
Referral of Specimens
UnityPoint Health - Methodist | Proctor serves its customers by selecting and using qualified, licensed reference laboratories to perform those tests desired by clients that are not performed at Methodist and Proctor. Methodist and Proctor will select these reference laboratories based on the quality of service, ease of reporting, and range of services offered.
Methodist and Proctor's customers may, for medical reasons, request that an alternate reference laboratory perform a test on a patient. Methodist and Proctor will honor these requests if they are clearly indicated on the requisition submitted at the time the test is ordered. Methodist and Proctor do reserve the right to have a Pathologist discuss the reason for the request with the ordering physician. If the specimen is forwarded to the alternate laboratory requested by the customer, the customer or patient will be charged that laboratory's test fee PLUS the associated shipping and handling costs.