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Transportation of samples

Sample containers must be sterile and clearly marked with:

  • Patient's name
  • Date of birth
  • NHS number/hospital number
  • Date sample taken.

For sample labelling criteria please see referral requirements. For sample, tube/vessel, volume requirements and acceptance and rejection criteria please see the relevant section in services and tests.

The referral form must accompany the sample. Our own forms include a pocket to place the sample into and are available from Pathology reception at NUH (City Campus) 56195 or CSA (Central Services Area QMC Campus) extension 64936. Please ensure that this and the sample container are securely sealed. If sending a larger container that will not fit into the pocket attached to the referral card (e.g. POCs) please ensure the referral card is kept in a waterproof packet separate to the vessel in case of any leakage during transport.  

If sending diagnostic samples by post, courier or taxi, they must be packaged for transportation according to the requirements of UN packaging instructions: For guidance to the packaging and transportation of biological specimens by road please see Department of Transport Guidance for Transport of Infectious Substances.

The packaging should consist of three components:

  • A primary receptacle
  • Secondary packaging with sufficient absorbent material to absorb any fluid in case of leakage or breakage
  • Outer packaging sufficient to protect the secondary packaging and contents from damage whilst in transit

The outer packaging should be clearly marked with the UN3373 diamond and diagnostic specimen. 

Samples should be sent to the laboratory as soon as possible. Delay in sample receipt can compromise the quality of the test result, or result in test failure. If dispatching samples just before the weekend or a bank holiday, you may wish to store the sample in a fridge (but please DO NOT FREEZE) before dispatch on the next working day. This reduces the risk of the sample being undelivered or stored at room temperature for several days. 

Please send as quickly as possible to the Cytogenetics Department.

Page last reviewed 17/01/2024. Please note that if printed, the information is only valid on the day of printing.