Specimen Collection

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The following are the types and proper procedures for the collection of specimens that can be submitted to the Serology department.


Collect the whole blood in a 10 ml red top vacutainer with no preservatives or anticoagulants. Let tube set for about 30 minutes before refrigerating (2-8 C) or centrifuging tube and pouring off serum. If you send in whole blood, please send in at least 5 ml if possible. If you are sending in just the serum, remove serum from clot of cells as soon as possible to avoid hemolysis. A vacutainer with a serum separator will be accepted. Serum may be stored for short term at 2-8 C or at -20 C for long term.

Any blood specimen that is hemolyzed or lipemic will be rejected (not tested). Make sure to label the tube with the patient's name or patient ID number, if it’s for AIDS testing. Verify that the tube information matches the patient information on the submission form. If the information on the submission form and on the specimen tube do not match, the specimen will be rejected for testing.

CSF (Cerebrospinal Fluids), Pleural Fluid, Peritoneal and Joint Fluids

Aseptically collect an appropriate amount of fluid. (Spinal fluids which are visibly contaminated or contain gross blood are unsatisfactory for testing and will be rejected.) We need at least 0.3 cc or more for testing. Identify the specimen tube with the name of the patient verifying that it matches the submission form. If the information on the submission form and on the specimen tube do not match, the specimen will be rejected.

Rejected Specimens

Submitting agencies will be contacted by phone for rejected specimens and receive a computer print-out. The following are examples of why a specimen will be rejected:

  • Specimen reject - No patient name or identification number (for AIDS testing) on tube and/or submission form, a discrepancy between the information (patient name or ID #) on the submission form and on the specimen tube, specimens that are grossly hemolyzed or lipemic, etc.
  • Specimen broken or leaked in transit - Contamination of specimen or specimens if vacutainer is broken or vial leaks.
  • Specimen quantity insufficient - Not enough specimen to perform test(s) (initial or repeat/confirmation tests) requested.

Proper procedures should be followed for submitting specimens (by courier or mail) to the Serology Department. Blood or blood products should be placed in a second plastic container or falcon tube to contain any leakage or broken glass while in transit. The specimen should be placed in a plastic bag and the submission form should be placed in a separate compartment. ALERT: DO NOT WRAP SUBMISSION FORM AROUND SPECIMEN.

Falcon tubes and cardboard mailers are available from the Receiving Department. For any more information or questions, contact the Serology Department or the Receiving Department.