Specimen Handling and Transportation

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Specimen handling and storage requirements are dependent upon specimen types and the tests required. For more information on particular storage requirements please contact the laboratory on 01733 677000.

Blood specimens that require electrolyte measurement (including U&E, sodium, potassium, chloride) must never be refrigerated before centrifugation. All such specimens should be stored and transported to the laboratory at room temperature. Failure to do so will result in the invalidation of the above tests. There are also specific handling requirements for some microbiology tests (e.g. BacT/ALERT bottles, testing for amoebic dysentery), for more information see the Microbiology handbook.


Specimen transport within PCH

Specimens can be transported via the pneumatic pod system from within PCH. Samples should be placed in one of the plastic specimen bags provided, which can then be sealed and sent inside of one of the pods along with the corresponding request form to the pod station that is designated for that particular area of the hospital, which will be one of the following pod station numbers; 111, 333, 444 or 555.  Some specimens should not be transported via the pod system, these include:


  • Samples for blood gas analysis
  • CSF samples for CSF Haem Pigment analysis (SAH screen)
  • Sweat capillaries (cystic fibrosis screen)
  • Samples preserved on ice
  • Samples that do not fit safely in the pod

For further information on the pneumatic pod system please contact the laboratory on extension 8468.

Samples from within PCH not transported via the pod system should be taken to the laboratory via the hospital porters, and should be carried in the boxes provided, in accordance with local model rules.


In the event of the pod system being down, please contact the Brookfield’s service desk on ext 7444 to arrange specimen transport.


Specimen transportation from outside the PCH site

Sample collection and transportation from surgeries is arranged by NWAFT in a contract with GSG.  

However users should note that, under the EU Carriage Requirements for Diagnostic Specimens (ADR Regulations), the ‘consignor’ is considered responsible for complying with the Regulations.


The Regulations require samples to be packaged in accordance with Packing Instructions P650 which requires a triple layer of packaging to reduce the likelihood of sample leakage during transport.


To assist with compliance the Trust will provide surgeries with the following:

    • Mini Grip Specimen Bags – this will act as the primary container.
    • Departmental Specific ‘Diagnostic Specimen’ transport bags complete with absorbent pouches (as shown below). This is the secondary container and is intended to contain leakage from any primary containers.


supply of these items is available from Specimen Reception at PCH, these can be ordered online at http://shop.pch-pathlab.com, manual order forms and over the phone (01733) 677000.

A guide is available on the appropriate usage of the Diagnostic Specimen Transport Bag.  Please click here for the guide or at the bottom of the page.


Prior to transport collection time – All Diagnostic Specimen Transport Bags are required to be sealed using the adhesive strip attached to the bag.  Make this bag available to the GSG driver upon arrival at the surgery.

The driver will insert this bag into an approved and labelled diagnostic specimens transport container and seal the box – this acts as the tertiary containment level required by the Regulations.


Specimens Delivered out-of-hours

If specimens are transported to the laboratory out of working hours from outside the PCH site, i.e. at weekends or between 1700 and 0800, they should be delivered to the front desk at the Peterborough City Hospital site, who will arrange transport to the laboratory. If in the event, the font desk is not accesible then the samples should be delivered to the Emergency Department, stating they are for the Pathology Laboratory. It is advisable to notify the laboratory of the samples, particularly if they are urgent.  If any difficulties are experienced in delivering specimens to the laboratory during the out-of-hours period, please contact the on-call technician via the hospital switchboard (telephone 01733 678000).


Spillages of specimens during transportation

Specimens must be transported packaged as described above in order to reduce the risk of spillages. If a spillage is encountered during the specimen transportation procedure please contact the laboratory via telephone on 01733 677000 (or out-of-hours contact the hospital switchboard on 01733 678000 and ask to speak to the Pathology department) for advice on the handling of the spillage. When contacting the laboratory, if possible please provide information on the specimen types being transported.



Specimen Transport Issues

In the event of transport issues where they may be missed specimen collections or any other issues or queries, then please contact Pathology (01733) 678468 to discuss.