Newcastle Laboratories

Specimen Submission

Submitting specimens

Samples to be submitted to the Blood Sciences Department for testing MUST be sent by a doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. The department cannot accept samples submitted directly by patients or anyone not authorised to do so.

Transport of specimens

 GP Samples

Samples are collected regularly from the GP surgeries by the Laboratory Medicine courier service and taken to the Freeman Hospital Pathology Reception. (click here)

Newcastle Hospitals Specimens

Freeman Hospital – Routine samples should be delivered to Pathology reception at all times.

Royal Victoria Infirmary – Routine samples should be delivered to the Blood Sciences department reception at all times.

Specimens from external NHS Trusts and other organisations

 Samples from external service users can be delivered in person either to Freeman Hospital or RVI (as above) or sent by Royal Mail or courier service.

All samples must be transported in compliance with the National Road Transport policy for the ‘Transport of clinical specimens’ (click here).

Any queries about specimen transport can be addressed to Laboratory Medicine Business Unit (Tel: 0191 223 1135)

Acceptance and Rejection of specimens

The complete Sample Acceptance and Rejection Policy for Newcastle Hospitals Trust can be viewed here (click here)

Samples must be labelled promptly in close vicinity to the patient e.g. bedside or out-patient phlebotomy room.

Essential information for the sample label:

  • Patient’s Full Name
  • Date of birth
  • Hospital Number or NHS number or other agreed unique identifier
  • If known biohazard, a biohazard sticker or other alert must be attached to both request and sample.

A single unique identifier is permitted only for specific agreed services where prior arrangements have been made with and agreed by the laboratory, such as for:

  • Sexual health
  • Health Surveys
  • Clinical Research and Trials
  • Unknown Patients that are emergency admissions – a specifically generated number is allowed for unknown unidentified patients seen in emergency departments. The label and request details should state ‘Unknown male’ or ‘Unknown female’ together with the unique and specific emergency number.

Desirable information for the sample label:

Date and Time of sample (essential for certain dynamic tests, for Tissue Specimens and where the sample is perishable or analyte unstable)

Essential information for the request – electronic or paper:

  • Patient’s Full Name
  • Date of birth
  • Hospital Number or NHS number or other agreed unique identifier.
  • Sex of patient
  • Date of sample
  • Patient’s location
  • Responsible Consultant or GP
  • Name of requesting Medical Officer/practitioner
  • Investigations required
  • If known biohazard, a biohazard sticker or other alert must be attached to both request and sample.

Desirable information for the request – electronic or paper :

  • Time sample collected
  • Clinical Information and relevant history
  • Requesting Medical Officer/Practitioner’s contact telephone number

Rejection Criteria

Samples may be rejected in the following circumstances:

  • The minimum essential information is missing from the sample or request.
  • The sample and request form information do not match.
  • The sample is unlabelled or otherwise unsuitable (e.g. wrong tube type).

Where the Essential Information Is Missing…..

….from a sample or request form, the laboratory will attempt to contact the requesting medical officer/practitioner identified on the request using the contact number, where this is given.

The laboratory may require the requesting medical officer/practitioner to attend the laboratory to complete or amend details before the request is accepted.

If the laboratory is unable to contact the requesting medical officer/practitioner or colleague the sample will be rejected or analysis deferred until contact is made.

When samples are rejected due to insufficient information, a report will be issued through the laboratory information system as soon as practicable, stating that the sample has not been processed and giving details.

Where the missing information includes the Patient’s Consultant and/or the GP Patient’s location and destination for report, a printed report may be delayed or unavailable. In this case, the report may be issued to a default source (Unknown Consultant/Unknown Location) on the laboratory information system. Samples that have been rejected and not processed may be stored in the laboratory for up to one week to allow the requesting practitioner time to get in touch. This storage will be at the discretion of individual departments.

Samples Which May be Processed Even If the Essential Information Is Missing

Certain types of specimen are considered ‘precious’ or are extremely difficult to repeat (e.g. CSF samples, biopsies, aspirates etc)

In such cases, a senior member of the laboratory staff will be responsible for deciding if the analysis is justified. The requesting medical officer/practitioner will be contacted and may be asked to come to the department to complete the details.

If samples are accepted under these circumstances, the details will be recorded on the form or in the computer. The report will include a clear disclaimer detailing the shortcomings of the sample and/or request.

The disclaimer will identify the requesting practitioner who has agreed to take responsibility for the results and for any action taken as a result of the report.