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Pathology sample labelling

Please note - this is general only advice. For specific departmental requirements please contact them directly.


What I need to include

What happens if I don’t?

A minimum of 3 patient identifiers

Rejected sample  

You will need to attend the lab to identify samples

Clinician and location for report

Report Not Available

Without the correct originating source we cant allocate a destination for the report

Complete forms fully and accurately

Rejected Sample Or Compromised Diagnosis

Include as much patient information as possible
Failure to provide information may lead to unhelpful or inaccurate diagnosis

Complete forms legibly

Sample Incorrectly Registered

Illegible handwriting will not be interpreted
May result in errors or delays to results

Indicate the appropriate tests if applicable
Use the correct carriers or sample bags

Samples May Not Receive Correct Examination

Sample may not reach the correct destination
May result in errors or delays to results


 Specimen containers bearing addressograph labels will not be normally be analysed with the single exception of histopathology specimens, where addressograph labels are acceptable.

Labelling high risk specimens

Specimens from patients who have, or are suspected of having, the following diseases constitute a risk of infection to persons handling the specimens (nursing, portering, laboratory reception and technical staff). See list below:

  • Viral hepatitis

  • HIV infection

  • IV drug users

  • Tuberculosis

  • Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease

  • Typhoid Fever (Salmonella typhi/paratyphi)

  • Plague

  • Anthrax

  • Melioidosis (Burkholderia pseudomallei)

  • Brucellosis

  • Faecal samples from patients with E coli 0157 or Haemolytic uraemic syndrome

  • Dysentery (caused by Shigella dystenteriae)

  • Viral Haemorrhagic Fever (Do not send any specimens)

  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

  • Psittacosis


So to minimise this risk, we ask you to ensure that such specimens are packaged and labelled as follows:

- Attach a "Risk of Infection" label to the specimen container.
- Place the specimen in either the plastic bag attached to the form, or a "minigrip" bag if the form does not have an attached sample bag, and close the seal.
- Attach a "Risk of Infection" label to the request form.
- Specify on the request form the nature of the risk (e.g. typhoid, TB, blood bourne infection, etc).

 NB- The nature of the risk should be clearly specified.

- Place the request form in the external pocket of the bag in using a "minigrip" bag.
- For GP request forms ensure all copies are labelled with "Risk of Infection" labels.

Do not send - "Risk of Infection" samples to the laboratory using the pneumatic air tube.

"Risk of Infection" labels are available from the Pathology Laboratories situated at the Royal Derby Hospital site.

Last modified: 22/11/2017