Specimen Collection Guide 


Download our Specimen Collection Guide


Guide Information

The aim of this Specimen Collection Guide is to provide clear guidelines for the collection of the majority of laboratory tests.

This information is constantly reviewed and updated. If you save a copy please ensure you resave the newest version regularly.
Download our Blood Collection Guide for a quick reference guide for the most common blood tests. 


Recommended Venepuncture Procedure

Prior to Venepuncture:

  • Identify the patient using a minimum of two points of identification - ask the patient to state their details rather than asking them to confirm what you state

  • Check what tests are required, check the Specimen Collection Guide, and organise the correct tubes prior to venepuncture

  • Note appropriate additional information e.g. LMP, EDD, thyroid medications, drug dosage and times



  • Use the appropriate collection materials (e.g. vacutainer hub)

  • Select the best vein (listening to the patient may help if difficult previous bleeds)

  • Minimise tourniquet use

  • No more than two venepuncture attempts, refer to another phlebotomist or one of our collection centres if required


 After Venepuncture:

  • Label the tubes using a minimum of two points of  identification (e.g. full name and NHI or DOB)

  • Write your initials, date and time on the form

  • Check transport requirements


Order of Draw

Please refer to the BD Order of Draw chart.


Patient Safety - Urine Collections

Some urine containers may contain a small amount of acid.  This will be indicated on the container. 
Please warn patients that if they accidentally spill any acid onto themselves, they must wash/rinse the area with copious amounts of water. 
Male patients should not pass urine directly into the bottles; instead they should pass it into a container then tip the specimen into the bottle.

Please note: Urine containers must be labelled with patient details (full name and DOB or NHI) before being given to the patient.


Specimen Labelling Requirements

A minimum of two points of identification (e.g. full name and NHI or DOB) are required to meet regulatory requirements.


Confidential Requests

In order to provide patient anonymity it is sometimes necessary to use a confidential ID code. 

Our recommendation is that you use the universal code:

  • The first two letters of the surname
  • The first letter of the given name

  • M or F (for male/female)

  • The DOB (six numbers)

For example Ann Smith 24/3/64 would be code SMAF240364

When a code is used the NHI should be omitted, otherwise the system will match up the patient details.

  • If a reference number has been allocated for the patient – write the number in the ‘Drs Ref’ box on the requisition form.

  • If not using the universal code a minimum of four letters or numbers, or a combination of four letters/numbers is required, together with the word “Code”.


Urgent Tests

Canterbury SCL’s target turnaround time for urgent requests is four hours, although we frequently report urgent results in a shorter timeframe. If you require a result sooner than four hours please write the time required on the request form.  We will do our best to meet that time.

Please note: Results may not be always be available to you during normal working hours and if they are abnormal we will need to contact you. Please ensure we have an after-hours contact number.

When phoning for a courier pick-up please state that you have an urgent sample.  The despatcher will advise whether they will send an urgent courier, a taxi or whether your next courier will reach the lab as quickly as sending out a courier from their base.

Please indicate on the form if the request is urgent or if only a specific test is urgent. Requests to phone or fax results are not considered a request for an urgent result.

NOTE: All urgent specimens must be sent to the laboratory in a RED bag for them to be processed urgently through specimen reception.


Specimen ON ICE Protocol

Place the specimen with a bag of ice (not in the freezer) for transport to the laboratory.

Keep the specimen in the fridge if there is to be any delay before transport.

Note: There may be a specified delivery time to the laboratory (refer to the test guide for details or see below). 


Delivery Time Requirement

Some samples may have a “deliver to the laboratory within X hours” requirement.

It is recommended that these patients are sent to our collection centres for sample collection.

If a sample is collected at the surgery, please ring us and state that you have a sample that must reach the laboratory within x hours (please do not say you have an urgent sample).

We will advise whether this will be an urgent courier, a taxi or if your next courier will reach the lab within the required time.

In either case, send the sample to the lab in a RED bag.


SST Tubes and Centrifugation Protocol

All bloods taken in SST (Gold) tubes require 30 minutes standing time before centrifugation.

Once the 30 minutes have elapsed, the SST tubes are to be spun in the Centrifuge for 10 minutes at 3500 rpm.

Upon completion of the centrifugation, the specimen is removed and placed in the appropriate biohazard bag, with the requisition form in the pouch, to await collection.


Home Visits for Phlebotomy Collection

Please fax the request form to 03 360 1494

To contact the Home Visit Coordinator regarding an Urgent Home Visit or a with a general enquiry phone 03 360 0842


Patient Chargeable Tests

Refer to our Patient Price List


Cross Match / Group and Hold

When samples for Cross Match or Group and Hold are collected the NZ Blood Service form must also be filled out and specific labelling requirements adhered to.

We recommend referring the patient to a Canterbury SCL blood collection centre where our staff are trained in these procedures.

Blood samples for pre-transfusion testing (Group and Hold or Cross Matching) should be taken no longer than 72 hours before the transfusion may be given (with the exceptions below). 

It is therefore crucial that any relevant information about transfusion or recent or current pregnancy is made available on the Canterbury SCL request form. 

Please note: “group and Rh” is a request for a blood group only and this sample cannot be used for cross matching. 

If transfusion is or may be needed, this should be requested in writing, as “Group & Hold” or “Cross Match n units” with a time and date.

If in doubt about the requirements, contact Blood Bank.


 Clinical Details                                                       Sample Validity

No history of transfusion or pregnancy within the last 3 months

AND This is expressly stated on the request form

7 days

When a longer period is needed (for example when the timing of surgery is uncertain) and this is expressly requested at the time.


No history of transfusion or pregnancy within the last 3 months AND This is expressly stated on the request form

21 days

All other cases or if no history is provided

72 hours