REFERRING A CASE

SPECIMEN PACKAGING
 
Most cellular pathology specimens are classified as ‘Biological Substance, Category B’ and as such should be handled and packaged in accordance with UN3373 regulations.  

The packaging of samples which are to be sent to TPS should adhere to the following guidelines:

Primary: The specimen container should be of at least 3x the maximum dimension of the specimen. The specimen MUST be completely immersed in appropriate fixative (optimum is 10x the volume of the specimen).

Secondary: The specimen container should be placed in a polythene bag (usually transparent) which should then be sealed.

Tertiary: The specimen bag should then be transported within a hard outer packaging. For same day collections, the couriers always have appropriate transport boxes. For specimens sent by post, appropriate UN3373-compliant pre-paid and self-addressed transport containers can be provided on request.



REQUEST FORMS / SPECIMEN LABELLING

Every specimen sent to the laboratory must be clearly labelled and accompanied by a completed request form.

The request form and specimen label should ideally be printed, however if this is not possible then the details must be written in block capitals with a black pen.

Urgent cases must be clearly labelled as such on the request form and it is preferable for contact to be made with the administrative team.

Specimens known or suspected to be infected with high-risk organisms should be appropriately and clearly labelled.

The request form must contain the following information:
  • The patients surname, forename, date of birth, address and hospital number. (At least three unique identifiers are necessary for the specimen to be processed)
  • The date of specimen collection.
  • The requesting clinician and their contact details (unless previously established).
  • The referring hospital or clinic.
  • Any relevant clinical information about the patient (to assist in the reporting of cases and to enable appropriate advice/discussion).
  • The specimen details including site. If there are multiple specimens they should be identified as 1, 2, 3 etc and labelled accordingly.
  • The investigation requested.
  • The request form must be signed and dated by the requesting clinician.
Specimen pots must contain the following information:
  • The patients surname, forename, date of birth, address and hospital number. (At least three unique identifiers are necessary for the specimen to be processed)
  • The requesting clinician.
  • The referring hospital or clinic.
  • The specimen details including site. If there are multiple specimens they should be identified as 1, 2, 3 etc and labelled accordingly.
  • Date of collection.
Cytology slides must contain the following information:
  • The patients surname, forename, date of birth and hospital number. (These three unique identifiers are necessary for the slides to be processed)
  • Wet or dry fixed slide.
  • Date of collection.
It is important that time is taken to ensure that the request form and specimens are correctly labelled and correspond with one another.  Incomplete or incorrectly labelled request forms or specimens may result in the specimen being sent back to the referring hospital/clinic for amendment.



SAMPLE HANDLING
  • Adequately fixed tissue is vital in the interpretation of histopathology. For most specimens the tissue should be placed immediately into fixative: 10% neutral buffered formalin. Bouin's solution can be provided for testicular biopsies.
  • The container must be of suitable size: at least 3x the maximum dimension of the specimen.
  • The specimen MUST be completely immersed in 10% formalin (optimum is 10x the volume of the specimen) and sent to the laboratory as soon as possible.
  • Please ensure that you use the correct sized lid for the specimen pots and that they are fastened properly to avoid leakage.
  • The specimen can be kept at room temperature.
  • Ensure the specimen pot is correctly labelled and the request form is completed.
  • Place the specimen(s) into a specimen bag along with the request form.
  • We can provide a variety of different container sizes pre-filled with 10% formalin for your convenience. We can also supply 5 litre containers of 10% formalin.


SPECIMEN TRANSPORTATION

Couriers

We can provide a courier service where this is required. Courier collections have the advantage of optimising the reliability of specimen transfer to the laboratory and improving turn-around-time.
 
The couriers are trained in transportation of diagnostic specimens, carry medical transport containers and are supplied with emergency spill kits.
 
Postal kits

UN3373 pre-paid self-addressed postal kits are available on request. These packs include specimen containers with preservative added.

This option is acceptable only when turn-around-time is not critical. It also more suitable if the number of specimens sent are very few and scattered across time.



TURN-AROUND-TIMES

Turn-around times are quoted from date of operative procedure and represent the times within which the vast majority of specimens will be reported:

Urgent results:  2 working days
All urgent samples are prioritised by the laboratory. These samples must be labelled clearly as urgent. The clinician’s contact details should also be added to the request form.

Routine results: 3 to 5 working days
  • Most small specimens will be reported within 3 working days.
  • Most larger specimens will be reported within 5 working days.
  • Complex specimens and those requiring additional investigations (particularly immunohistochemistry) may take longer.
Cytology turn-around-times are 1 day quicker as there is no overnight processing (most results are ready on the day of receipt).



COMMUNICATION OF REPORTS
  • Reports are typed and authorised on the same day the reporting clinician has completed the provisional or final report.
  • Reports can then be sent to the referring clinician by fax, e-mail or post.
  • A secure e-mail system is available, please contact us for further information.
  • Most of the post goes via courier the following morning.
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