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Guidance on specimen collection, packaging and transport, and rejection criteria.


A properly collected specimen is critical to quality test results. Ensure that:

  • The correct specimen type is collected.
  • The correct amount is collected.
  • The specimen is collected in the right container with any necessary additives.
  • The specimens are collected following safe working practices.
  • Ensure that there is no contamination from external sources when collecting
  • microbiology and virology samples.
  • Clean surgical instruments and surgical trays must be used when collecting Histopathology samples.
  • The container is securely sealed and labelled.

Specimen collection

Guides and protocols.

Specimen packaging

Samples need to be collected and packed into appropriate sample containers provided by the laboratory in order to maintain integrity of the sample(s). Attention needs to be given to temperature, special transport containers and time limitations.

Specimen transport

Samples need to be transported for subsequent processing and testing. Various transport systems can be used, covering long or short distances.

Specimen rejection criteria

Sometimes tests cannot be performed in the laboratory if samples fall short of the quality, volume or other eligibility criteria. In these cases, the laboratory may need to reject the samples, and not carry out processing.