Transportation of samples

Sample containers must be sterile and clearly marked with:

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

For sample labelling criteria please see referral requirements. For sample, tube/vessel, volume requirements please see the relevant section in sample requirements.

The referral form must accompany the sample. Our own forms include a pocket to place the sample into and are available from the CAS office. Please ensure that this and the sample container are securely sealed. If sending forms without and attached packet 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 to be received with no more than 72 hours. 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 Molecular Diagnostics Department.

Peripheral blood or bone marrow samples for Molecular Diagnostics and flow cytometry investigations should be sent either to pathology reception or directly to the HMDN reception in a Molecular Diagnostics and Flow Cytometry sample bag as soon as possible. Bone marrow samples are sent directly to HMDN.

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