Transport of specimens
All samples must be transported in compliance with the National Road Transport policy for the ‘Transport of clinical specimens’. Any queries about specimen transport can be addressed to the microbiology laboratory (0191 2231019).
- Freeman Hospital
Samples should be delivered directly to Pathology Reception.
- Royal Victoria Infirmary & CAV
Routine samples should be delivered to the RVI Pathology Reception. A regular courier service operates between sites (Mon-Sat). On Sunday samples are collected once daily by the microbiology taxi at 9:30am.
NB: Urgent hospital samples including on-call requests must be sent to Freeman Hospital Main Reception via taxi. This is arranged by Leazes Wing and New Victoria Wing Reception staff. Samples must be taken to these referral points as soon as possible after contacting the on-call Biomedical Scientist.
- Inter-hospital Transfer (North East England)
Samples are transferred between hospitals via a dedicated courier
Samples from GP surgeries are collected regularly by the Laboratory Medicine courier service and taken directly to the Freeman Hospital Pathology Reception.
- Royal Mail
If samples need to be referred by post please contact the microbiology laboratory to arrange specialised postal packs.
- Hays DX
Our DX Address is:
Public Health England
High Risk Samples
The Laboratory must be made aware when a specimen is high risk by labelling both the request form, where submitted, and sample container with a biohazard label.
It is not necessary for safety reasons to identify the patient’s condition on the request form, although it will aid diagnosis, except in the case of known or suspected Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE, e.g. CJD/vCJD).
Note that infectious specimens are safe to be transported by Hopper, courier or taxi when correctly packed in the UN approved triple packaging, as for other diagnostic specimens, but in this instance the outer pack must display a UN2814 ‘Infectious Substance’ biohazard label (often pre-printed on the outer box).
Acceptance and Rejection of specimens
Essential information for the sample label:
- Patient’s Full Name
- Date of birth
- Hospital Number or NHS number or other agreed unique identifier
- High risk samples must be labelled with a biohazard sticker
All fields must be populated
If completing paper request paper request forms please ensure all fields are completed. Missing information may lead to a delay in sample processing.
A single unique identifier is permitted only for specific agreed services such as:
- Sexual Health
- Health Surveys
- Unknown Patients that are emergency admissions
- Clinical Research and Trials
Relevant clinical details MUST be provided including the following:
- Specimen type ie MSU, CSU
- Date of onset
- Travel history
- Current antibiotic therapy
- Gestation if pregnant
Samples may be rejected in the following circumstances:
- Minimum essential information missing from sample or request
- Sample / request mismatch
- Unlabelled sample
- Leaking sample
- Inappropriate container
- No test requested
NB: When samples are rejected due to insufficient information, a report will be issued through the laboratory information system, stating that the sample has not been processed and giving details.
Samples will be stored in the laboratory for up to one week to allow the requesting practitioner time to get in touch.
Unrepeatable samples e.g. CSF, blood culture, biopsies, aspirates
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 to determine the necessary details.
The report will include a clear disclaimer detailing the shortcomings of the sample and/or request.