Packing and sending samples

Packing a sample

Packing and sending samples

The SDGS laboratory is open to receive samples during normal office hours and from 9.30-11.30am on Saturday mornings.

All urgent samples must be despatched by special courier (taxi, hospital van), be clearly labelled as urgent and have telephone contact numbers listed in order to report results. Other specimens may be sent by first class mail.

Safe packaging and transport of samples

Samples should be transported to the laboratory in such a way that ensures the safety of the courier, the general public and the receiving laboratory.

They must be packed and labelled according to the regulations for the transport of dangerous goods. They should be transported as UN3373 and should be packed using Packaging Instruction 650 (P650) outlined below:

  • samples should be collected into a leakproof primary container
  • this must be wrapped in sufficient absorbent material to absorb all possible leakage in the event of damage and then sealed in leakproof secondary packaging
  • the secondary packaging, along with the request form, must then be placed into an outer packaging
  • either the secondary or outer packaging should be rigid
  • the outer package must be clearly labelled with a diamond shaped mark containing UN3373 and Biological Substance Category B.

NB. Any label indicating a danger of infection must be attached to the secondary container. This label should not be visible on the outer package, but must be visible to whoever unpacks it before the secondary container is opened (see information below on sending high risk specimens).

Please also see the Department for Transport regulations for the transportation of samples.

Referral form instructions and sample labelling

All samples should be correctly labelled with the patient’s forename, surname and registration number or date of birth.

They should be accompanied by an appropriate referral form.

Alternatively, please call 0114 271 7014 to arrange for a batch of referral forms to be sent to you.

All forms must contain the following information:

  • name
  • date of birth
  • address
  • hospital
  • hospital number
  • NHS number
  • referring consultant
  • date of collection
  • clinical details and test required

Payment form

We can accept payment by cheque, banker’s draft or credit/debit card. Please make cheques or banker’s drafts payable to ‘Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust’.

You can also make a card payment over the phone. If you experience problems with our payment forms or would like an administrator to complete a form on your behalf, please call our General Office between the hours of 9am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-4.30pm GMT Monday to Friday on +44 (0)114 271 7285.

Sending high risk specimens

We are able to process some Category 3 risk specimens, but these should not be sent without prior consultation with the laboratory.

These samples should be clearly marked with high risk labels on the outer packaging and on the sample.

Blood borne viruses such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Hepatitis B, C and D (HBV, HCV, HDV) are categorised as Hazard Group 3.

Suspected Category 3 risk referrals e.g. intravenous drug users should be tested if possible before samples are sent to SDGS.

It is the responsibility of the referring clinician with knowledge of the individual case to determine if a specimen from a person in a high risk group actually presents a high risk.

Testing for Category 3 risk viruses should not be done without the informed consent of the patient. If karyotyping is urgent and must be carried out without prior testing, or must be carried out on a Category 3 positive case, the laboratory will process the specimen.

Samples must be clearly marked with ‘Danger of Infection’ stickers on the secondary packaging, clinical referral form and specimen container with clear details of the hazard involved on the clinical referral form.

Cases at risk of being infected with Category 3 pathogens other than the blood-born viruses, e.g. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, should not be sent without prior consultation with the laboratory as culture containment facilities for these may not be available.

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