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Department of Pathology ​
General Laboratory Information
Specimen Procurement and Handling
Proper specimen procurement and handling is an integral part of obtaining a valid and timely laboratory specimen report. Specimens must be obtained in the proper containers, correctly labeled, and promptly transported to the laboratory.
Safety Precautions 
The CDC recommends that all laboratory specimens be treated as potentially infectious. The following guidelines improve safety and infection control when collecting, handling or transporting pathology/cytology specimens. 
Body Fluids
Body fluid specimens should be placed in an impervious plastic bag(s), or other plastic container to prevent breakage or spills. Glass fluid collection bottles are not acceptable specimen containers.
All specimens must be transported in a sealed container, tightly capped to prevent leakage, and placed in a plastic biohazard transport bag. Many specimens are transported in formalin, which is potentially carcinogenic. Extra precaution should be taken to securely cap these containers. If a formalin container does leak, Safety should be contacted immediately.
Precaution Labels
Precaution labels should be affixed to all body fluid and tissue requisitions and specimens submitted from patients with suspected or confirmed infectious disease.
Specimen Transport
Submission of specimens with attached needles poses a high risk of needlestick injury and is therefore contraindicated under Universal Blood/Body Fluid Precautions guidelines. In addition, "capped" needle specimens must be placed in a biohazard specimen bag for transport to the laboratory.

Specimen Labeling 
Specimen Labeling Requirements
Each specimen container must have a label with the following information:
  • patient's name
  • patient's record number (hospital patients)
  • specimen site

Note: The specimen container itself must have a label applied; it is not acceptable to place the label on the specimen transport bag.

Specimen Requisition Requirements
Mandatory information required on specimen requisitions:
  • patient's name (last name, first name)
  • medical record number (hospital patients)
  • patient's birth date (age/hospital patients)
  • sex
  • ordering physician (full name)
  • procedure date
  • clinical diagnosis
  • specimen site
  • LMP (mandatory for gyn Pap smear specimens)

Supplemental information:

  • TISSUE/BODY FLUID PRECAUTION label, if patient has suspected or confirmed infectious disease
  • pertinent clinical history
  • physicians to receive copies of report 

Specimen Processing 
All order entry into the Pathology Specimen Information System takes place at the Department of Pathology Laboratory Receiving Station.
Unacceptable specimens cannot be accessioned or processed by the laboratory. Common causes for unacceptable specimens include:

  • specimen container unlabeled or improperly labeled
  • incomplete specimen requisition
  • discrepancy between specimen label and requisition
  • body fluid submitted in glass collection bottle
  • aspiration specimen submitted with needle attached
  • LMP not specified on Gyn Pap smear requisition

Note: Responsible staff at the location where the specimen originated will be notified by designated Pathology Department personnel to resolve unacceptable specimens.