Specimen Collection Best Practices

Specimen Collection Best Practices

At AVRL we care deeply about the quality and accuracy of laboratory results. Superior performance and service is our promise to you. But we cannot deliver top quality information if the specimen we receive is compromised. The partnership between AVRL and your practice is forged to provide the best service for your clients and patients. In that partnership we need to rely on you to supply a high quality sample. We appreciate how difficult it can be to obtain a specimen. Many times you have only one chance to get the sample. You can ensure your best chance for accurate and reliable results by following these simple yet vital guidelines to keep sample integrity intact.

Specimen Handling in Extreme Temperatures

To ensure the highest quality results, samples must be well insulated from extreme temperatures during transport to the laboratory. Package your samples to protect the specimens from exposure to heat, direct sunlight, and freezing. If you leave samples outside of your hospital for courier pick up, make sure the area is as sheltered as possible from weather extremes.

General Principles

  • Even in good weather conditions, keep samples inside in proper storage for as long as possible.
  • If you need to insulate specimens, wrapping them in layers of newspaper or bubble wrap will help protect them from weather extremes.
  • Direct exposure to cold can damage cell membranes so do not place cold packs directly on Complete Blood Count (CBC) tubes.
  • Always submit slides when submitting blood tubes for a CBC.
  • Protect unfixed slides, blood smears, and cytology samples from direct contact with formalin, water, and cold packs (to prevent condensation on slides).
  • We recommend using cold packs when transporting blood specimens, cytology fluids, tissues, viral cultures, or urine for urinalysis or culture. But remember that freezing can cause hemolysis, so don't place the cold pack directly on blood tubes.
  • If a specimen must remain frozen for transport, please pack it with dry ice.