Specimen Collection & Handling Guidelines

Specimen Collection & Handling Guidelines


The following guidelines are offered with the goals of ensuring optimal patient/specimen identification and minimizing the risk of formaldehyde exposure to office staff, couriers, and laboratory personnel.

  1. Specimen containers should be labeled in the presence of the patient at the time of the biopsy or surgical procedure.
    – Pre-labeling of containers should be avoided
    – Patient information must exactly match the information on the requisition sheet.
  2. A formalin container most appropriately sized for the size of the specimen is recommended.
    – The ratio of formalin volume to tissue volume should be at least 10/1 but should not exceed 20/1.
  3. After verification of the presence of tissue in the container, the lid should be firmly but not excessively tightened.
  4. The sealed and labeled container is placed into the sealable portion of the specimen transport bag, and then the bag is sealed (“zip lock” style).
  5. The requisition sheet is folded and placed into the open (non-sealable) “pocket” portion of the specimen transport bag.
    – Do not place the paperwork in the sealed compartment with the specimen container.
  6. Completed specimens are stored in a proper place, such as a laboratory-provided cooler box, until courier pick up.



Requisition forms are used to obtain pertinent patient information required to process specimens and to establish criteria for specimen acceptability.


  1. Specimens are accepted only if collected by appropriate means in Zinc Buffered Formalin or Michele’s Fixative and under the direction of a physician or his/her designee. No fresh specimens, body fluids, or blood samples will be accepted by this laboratory.
  2. Upon receipt, specimens are checked for proper labeling and accompanying paperwork.
  3. All surgical specimens MUST be accompanied by a legible requisition form. The following information is requested:
    – Patient’s first and last name
    – Date of Birth (DOB)
    – Gender of patient
    – Type of specimen (body site)
    – Collection Date and Time
    – Receipt day and time
    – Physician Name
    – Pre-Op Diagnosis (Required for medicaid and Medicare)
    – Pertinent Clinical Information
    – Office Medical Record or Chart Number (optional)
    – The submitting surgical suite, physician office or clinic is called for information that is not written on the order form.
  4. Criteria for REJECTION of a specimen are:
    – Specimen is not labeled and/or accompanied by a completed requisition.
    – The name or other identifying information on the requisition does not match that provided on the specimen container.
    – If name on surgical specimen does not match those on the requisition, attempts are made to verify correct name (i.e., maiden/married name). Verification is documented on the requisition form and included in gross dictation (correct information, person providing information, date information was received, and name of person accepting the information).
    – Specimen container is empty or insufficient for processing.