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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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General specimen requirement information

Cytogenetics sample requirements Molecular genetics sample requirements

Samples must be labelled with:

  • patient's full name (surname / family name and given/individual name)
  • date of birth and unique NHS/hospital number
  • date of collection.

Sample handling and storage

  • All samples should be sent directly to the laboratory to arrive as soon as possible after collection, i.e. hospital transport, first class post, courier service etc.
  • Samples can be stored overnight at +4oC if there is an unavoidable delay between sample collection and dispatch.
  • Please DO NOT FREEZE blood samples.

Sample packaging

Samples must be packaged to comply with PI650, for Category B biological substances as described by the European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR; applicable as from 01/01/2017)

This applies to all samples sent by post or courier.

Summary of Packing Instruction 650 (PI650)

Packaging comprises 3 components.

  • Pathological specimens must be in a securely sealed watertight primary container i.e. a sample tube.
  • Specimen tubes should then be sealed in a leak-proof secondary container (i.e. plastic container or specimen bag), along with sufficient absorbent material to absorb the entire contents of the container in the event of leakage or damage
  • The secondary container and the referral paperwork are then securely cushioned within a rigid outer packaging, such as a strong cardboard box/Jiffy bag for postal samples or a transport box for South Central Ambulance Transport services. This outer package should have at least one surface of minimum dimension 100 mm x 100 mm. 
  • The outer package should be clearly labelled "UN3373, Biological substance Category B". (Extracted DNA does not need to be labelled UN3373)

un3373

High risk samples (hazardous biological agents)

For samples known/likely to be infected with hazardous biological agents (hazard group 3 or above, e.g. HIV, Hepatitis B/C, prions, mycobacterium tuberculosis):

  • The nature of the risk must be clearly marked on the referral card.
  • The sample tube should be clearly labelled (e.g. 'Danger of Infection' tape) to indicate the high risk nature.
  • If information regarding hazardous biological agents becomes available after a sample is referred to the laboratory, then the laboratory must be informed immediately

Inappropriate samples

The following samples will NOT be accepted by the Genetics Laboratory:

  • Clotted blood samples
  • Lithium heparin samples for Molecular Genetics analysis - this is due to risk of failure or false positive results for some analyses. Lithium heparin samples ARE REQUESTED for karyotype analysis
  • Inadequately labelled samples
  • Inadequately packaged samples, including damaged or leaking samples.

Last updated: 18 October 2017 by Claire Scott.

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