These procedures ensure that all medical specimens arrive at the testing facility:
- At the correct temperature for testing
- Intact in the container, without breakage or leakage
- In the shortest possible time
- In compliance with all applicable regulations
1. Classify the Substance Being Shipped
Determine whether the substance to be tested is classified as "Category A" or "Category B." For transportation purposes, we recommend the following guidelines:
All Category A infectious substances such as mycobacterium tuberculosis cultures must be packaged and shipped as "Category A Infectious" according to IATA Packing Instruction 620. This Packing Instruction specifies that these specimens must:
- Be placed in a certified secondary container
- Accompanied by a shipper's declaration for dangerous goods
- Have a 6.2 hazard label affixed to the outside of the box
All specimens including urine, blood, swabs and tissues, including those from patients known or suspected of being infected with HIV, Hepatitis and West Nile Virus, must be packaged and shipped as "Biological Substances, Category B" according to IATA Packing Instruction 650.
2. Package the Specimen in the Appropriate Container and Temperature-specific, Color-coded Bag
Some specimens require light protection to ensure specimen integrity prior to testing. Check the Light Protection list before packaging your specimen.
All specimens must be shipped in a leak-proof container, regardless of transport temperature or Risk Group. We provide several containers for your use, including the Large Infectious Shipping Container (supply number T146).
For your added convenience, the biohazard bags provided by Mayo Medical Laboratories are color-coded by temperature; white for ambient specimens, pink for refrigerate specimens, and yellow for frozen specimens. These bags also contain a piece of absorbent material capable of absorbing the full liquid content of the specimen(s) placed inside.
Various federal and international agencies have published rules and regulations regarding the transportation of medical specimens:
- ICAO – International Civil Aviation Administration
- IATA – International Air Transport Association
- DOT – Department of Transportation
- CDC – Centers for Disease Control
- TSA – Transportation Safety Administration
- FDA – Food and Drug Administration
- OSHA – Occupational Safety and Health Association
- FAA – Federal Aviation Administration
- WHO – World Health Organization
Contact customer service and ask to speak with a Transportation Specialist if you have questions about shipping regulations.
The “Sent Infectious” Label
- If the specimen being shipped is classified as Category A, place the container inside a certified secondary container (such as T146) before placing it inside the bag.
T146 Certified Secondary Container
- Place the “Sent Infectious” Label (T438) on the outside of the color-coded bag with the infectious container inside. Write the name of the infectious agent on the label so the courier and others will be able to tell the substance being shipped without opening the bag or looking at the batch sheet.
"Sent Infectious" label correctly placed on the bag.