Specimen Collection and Preparation



Patient Preparation

Verify patient identification by having patient, parent or guardian state full name and date fo birth. Photo identification is mandatory for chain of custody drug screening.


Specimen Collection

The phlebotomist may collect blood samples by venipuncture or capillary draw. The doctor, a physician office employee, the patient or the patient's guardian is responsible for collecting other specimen types.




Draw blood in the designated color-coded tube. Immediately mix the blood by inverting gently 10-12 times. Within 30 minutes, separate the plasma by centrifugation for 10 minutes. Transfer to properly labeled, plastic vial. The vial must have sample type written on the container.




Draw blood in tube containing no anticoagulants. To obtain 4 mL serum, draw at least a full 10 mL tube. If serum separator tube is drawn, invert tube 5 times. Allow blood to clot for 30 minutes. Centrifuge for 10 minutes. If the blood was drawn in a plain red tube, transfer serum to plastic vial. The vial must have sample type written on the container.



Urine, Random 

If random urine is required, collect a clean-catch urine in a clean container with leak-proof lid.



Urine, Timed

Timed urine collection is required for quantitative tests. Accurate test results depend on proper collection and preservative of timed urine specimens. On the day of collection, discard the first voided urine and begin timing the collection. Refrigerate urine during collection. Collect all urine for the time span designated. Include the sample collected at the end of the time span. Record collection duration.



Whole Blood

Draw blood in the designated anti-coagulant color-coded tube. Immediately mix blood by inverting the tube gently 10 to 12 times. Unless otherwise specified, submit tube unopened.



Tissue Biopsy

Place tissue sample in vial with 10% formalin. Label the samples collected by the physician with patient's name, source of the specimen, and date of collection.



Cytology, non-gynecology

Fluids: Submit in fresh state, maintain refrigerated. Label container with patient's name.


Smears: Spray fix smears within 3 seconds of preparation. Label slide with patient's name.



Pap Smear

Conventional: Smear endocervical brushings and scrapings on one glass slide. Spray fix within 3 seconds of preparation. Label the glass slide and the transport pack with patient name and date.


Surepath: Detach cervical brush/broom used to obtain endocervical/cervical sample into Cytorich preservation collection vial. Label vial with patient's name.


Thin Prep: Detach by swirling endocervical/cervical sample obtained with cervical broom into properly labeled collection vial. Label vial with patient's name.



Specimen Labeling

Label each specimen with the following:

  • Patient's name or other unique identifier
  • Sample source, if indicated



Specimen Preservation

Submit sample preserved by method listed in the test directory. Frozen samples must have sample type listed on container.



Test Request Form

Submit a test request form complete with the patient's test, diagnosis, billing information and any other pertinent information. It is very important that each request include the following:

  • Patient's first and last name
  • Date of birth
  • Date and time of collection
  • Physician's name
  • Test(s) requested
  • Pertinent clinical history (Example: for Pap smears, the patient's last menstrual period and last Pap result)
  • Signed Advanced Beneficiary Notice (ABN), if applicable
  • ICD-9 Code if applicable
  • Complete billing information