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Specimen Packaging

At Unilabs we ask our users to follow the correct handling procedures to ensure:

  • The specimens are received and processed appropriately to support timely diagnosis
  • The risk to healthcare associated infections is minimised
  • To ensure correct labelling and positive patient identification

Most cellular pathology specimens are generally classified ‘Biological Substance, Category B’ and should be handled and packaged in accordance with UN3373 regulations.  Any sample which is to be transported to Unilabs for diagnostic purposes must adhere to the following instructions for packaging.

1. Primary Packaging

A specimen container or ‘specimen pot’ should be of relevant size to the specimen and contain the appropriate fixative. Ensure that the lid is securely tightened to avoid leakage during transportation.

2. Secondary Packaging

A polythene bag provides the secondary packaging layer into which the specimen container is placed. There should be absorbent tissue paper within this bag to soak up any leakage should this occur. This bag will need to be sealed and the corresponding request form placed into the outer side pocket of the bag.

3. Outer packaging

This should be a hard outer packaging. For same day collections in London, Unilabs-IHS couriers provide these containers. For specimens being sent using the overnight courier or postal service appropriate UN3373-compliant transport containers can be provided by Unilabs-IHS on request.

4. Specimen labeling

It is imperative that all specimen/sample pots are clearly labelled, on the container and not the lid, using addressographs where possible.

Essential Information

  • Hospital name and name of clinician
  • Full patient name or unique code identifier (clearly indicating which name is the forename and surname)
  • Date of Birth
  • Hospital Number
  • Nature of sample including qualifying details e.g. left, distal etc., especially if more than one sample per request is submitted

Desirable Information

  • Date/time the specimen was taken

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