Specimen Collection and Preparation
Instructions by Specimen Type
Determine the Specimen Requirements
In the Test Catalog, use the Specimen and Overview tabs of each test to identify:
- Patient preparation requirements
- Specimen requirements
- Specimen container requirements
- Specimen stability (temperature) requirements
- Collection instructions
- Required forms or special instructions
Collect the Specimen
Most laboratory tests are performed on anticoagulated plasma, serum, or whole blood.
Follow the instructions in the test to collect the specimen, paying special attention to container/tube, volume, and stability (temperature) requirements.
If Appropriate, Pour the Specimen into an Aliquot Tube or Bottle
Check the specimen requirements in the Test Catalog to see if your specimen requires any of the following:
- Aliquotting: Most specimens require aliquotting in an appropriate container to maintain specimen integrity. If you are not aliquotting, wrap the specimen in a bubble bag (T055) to protect from breakage.
- Light protection: Some specimens require light protection to ensure specimen integrity. Check the list of Light Protection Tests before packaging your specimen.
Mayo Medical Laboratories supplies the following tubes, which have met DOT and IATA leak-proof requirements.*
T465 Clear Aliquot Tube
Standard polypropylene tube for serum and plasma specimens. Preferred tube for most specimens.
T192 Amber Aliquot Tube
Amber-colored polypropylene tube to prevent analyte degradation from exposure to light.
T485 Sterile Aliquot Tube
Sterile tube for use when maintaining sterility is critical.
*The primary receptacle must be leakproof and must not contain more than 1 liter (shipping requirement). It must be capable of withstanding, without leakage, an internal pressure of 95 kPa in the range of -40°C to 55°C.
Label the Specimen
Specimens must have two person-specific identifiers on the patient label. Person-specific identifiers include:
- Accession number
- Patient's first and last name
- Unique identifying number (for example, medical record number)
- Date of birth
Specimens are considered mislabeled when there is a mismatch between the person-specific identifiers on the specimen and the information accompanying the specimen. This information might include a computer system, requisition form, or additional paperwork.
In addition, if a handwritten name and a label are on the container, the information must match exactly. For example, "Rebecca" does not match "Becky." When insufficient or inconsistent identification is submitted, a new specimen may be required.
Package the Specimen in a Biohazard Bag
Place the tube or container in a Mayo Medical Laboratories color-coded (temperature-specific) shipping bag.
T043 Biohazard Bag - 12x15
Use if your container is too
large for color-coded bags.
Mark it Frozen, Refrigerate,
or Room Temp (Ambient).
- Clients who submit electronic orders will have a batch order. Place all specimens for the temperature-specific batch number into one bag. If all the specimens do not fit, use a larger biohazard bag (T043) and indicate the shipping temperature.
- Do not place multiple batches into one bag.
If you are not using a bag supplied by Mayo Medical Laboratories:
- The bag must be leakproof.
- There must be absorbent material between the primary receptacle (tube/container) and the secondary packaging (bag) that is able to absorb the entire contents of the bag.
- Wrap any breakable tubes individually in bubble wrap (T055).
Package Batch Sheets and Forms
Folded batch sheet with bar code and delivery address visible
Clients who submit electronic orders will have a batch sheet. The bottom of the batch sheet lists the number of pages (for example, 1 of 3). Fold the batch sheets into fourths and place them in the outside pocket of the bag. If there is no pocket, place them inside the bag with the specimens. Include all pages in the corresponding bag. The delivery address and bar code, if applicable, must be visible. Do not combine multiple batches into one bag.
Clients who do not order electronically must include a completed Test Request form with each patient specimen. Our Customized Test Request Form generator provides the Test Request form and all other required forms for the specified test. Complete and print all forms included; then fold and insert the forms into the outside pocket of the biohazard bag. If there is no pocket, place the forms inside the bag with the specimen.