Specimen collection

Specimen collection

Our Specimen Collection Guide is a living document which aims to provide clear guidelines for the collection of the majority of laboratory tests.

This information is constantly reviewed and updated but you can always find a link to the latest version here:

Blood collection information

See below for useful information regarding blood collections:

Swab guides

For more information on swab collection please see our guides below:

Labelling criteria

Please note that samples will be discarded if they do not meet our labelling criteria.

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

View our Minimum Labelling Requirements Policy here

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 as follows:

  • 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. 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 dispatcher 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.

SST tubes and centrifugation protocol

Please note: This information is ONLY for sites which hold a Canterbury SCL centrifuge (due to distance from the lab).

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.

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 a delay before transport.

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.