Specimen Collection and Transport

Complete specimen handling requirements are provided in the alphabetical test listing of the Online Test Catalog. Specimen type, minimum volume, storage temperature, and any special handling notes are included in this listing. The specimen volume requested assures the availability of sample to allow repeat testing if needed. Storage temperature is specified as room temperature (18° to 22°C), refrigerated (4° to 7°C), or frozen (-20°C or colder).

Acute and convalescent samples should be submitted with collection dates at least two weeks apart.

Serum, Plasma, or Blood Collection
Urine Collection
Frozen Samples
Fecal Specimen Collection
Specimen Collection for Respiratory Viruses

Specimen Labeling and Request Forms
Preparing Specimens for Transport
Courier Service
Mailing Specimens
Unacceptable Specimens
Test Additions
Test Reporting

Serum, Plasma, or Blood Collection Draw blood in the color-coded vacuum tube indicated in the specimen handling requirements of the alphabetical test listing. For serum or plasma, obtain approximately 2 1/2 times the requested volume. For serum, allow the blood to clot at least ten minutes and separate by centrifugation. For plasma, thoroughly mix the blood with the anticoagulant by gently inverting the tube five to ten times and separate by centrifugation. Transfer the serum, plasma, or whole blood to a plastic transport tube provided by Warde Medical Laboratory.

Please Note: Lipemia, hemolysis and icteric samples may affect test results. Due to the concomitant effects, it may not be possible to predict whether this will increase or decrease results.

The following color-coded vacuum tubes are recommended unless otherwise indicated by the specimen handling requirements:

Stopper Color Additive Primary Laboratory Use
Gray Potassium Oxalate and Sodium Fluoride For glucose determination
Green Sodium Heparin For plasma determination in chemistry
Lavender Sodium or potassium EDTA For whole blood hematology determination and blood bank testing
Light Blue Sodium citrate For coagulation determination
Red None For serum determination in chemistry, serology, and toxicology
Gold SST Red/Black Separator Gel For serum determination in chemistry and serology
Royal Blue #1 Acid-washed containing sodium heparin For trace elements determination
Royal Blue #2 Acid-washed with sodium EDTA For trace elements determination
Royal Blue #3 Acid-washed with no preservative For trace elements determination
Tan Sodium heparin or potassium EDTA For lead determinations
Yellow ACD Solution A For blood bank studies, HLA phenotyping, DNA testing and Flow Cytometry
Yellow ACD Solution B For blood bank studies, HLA phenotyping, DNA testing and Flow Cytometry
Varies Special Collection Tubes Some tests require specific tubes for proper analysis.  Please contact WML to obtain the correct tubes for special applications.



Frozen SamplesFrozen samples should not be submitted in glass containers.  Submit frozen samples in plastic containers.  If multiple tests are requested on frozen samples, submit a separate frozen sample for each test ordered.


Urine Collection Most urine chemistry tests require a 24 hour collection. Preservatives to be used during the collection period are indicated in the specimen handling requirements for each test. Refer to the Appendix for more complete information on urine preservatives. Please caution the patient that the preservative may be toxic and caustic, and not to spill or discard the preservative.

The patient should be instructed to discard the first morning urine at exactly 7:00 a.m., but collect in the container all subsequent urine passed in the 24 hour period, making certain that the patient voids at exactly 7:00 a.m. of the second day and that this urine is also included in the 24 hour collection. Mix well before removing the required aliquot from the 24 hour collection. Do not send the entire urine collection. Indicate the 24 hour volume on the test request form and on the urine aliquot submitted. Adjust the pH if indicated in the specimen handling requirements.


Preparing Specimens for Transport

1. Warde Medical Laboratory requires the use of Standard Transport Tubes for specimen submission. These containers meet Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements for the transport of specimens and provide a leak-proof seal when screwed on properly. Do not snap the cap on and do not use parafilm. Upon request we will also supply

  • amber colored plastic tubes for light sensitive samples
  • screw-capped plastic urine containers
  • screw-capped plastic stool containers
  • various tubes and media for tests with special collection requirements.
  • Please call WML Client Services for additional information.

2. Print a packing list for interfaced samples. Place samples in rack by appropriate temperature (room temperature, refrigerated, or frozen). Place racks of samples in the appropriate 13x15 specimens transport bags. Packing lists should be placed in a small plastic bag, and placed in the larger bag with the samples. The bagged racks of samples should then be stored in the appropriate temperature location for courier pickup.

3. Samples that are sent with manual requisitions should be bagged in individual 8x10 sample bags with the appropriate temperature designation. Place requisitions in the outside pocket of the bag. Place bagged samples in the appropriate temperature location for courier pickup.

4. When preparing and shipping medical specimens, the regulations set forth by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) must be followed. You should be aware that your test send-out area is considered the "shipper" when they send specimens to a reference laboratory. Therefore, your send-out area must understand and follow regulations for preparing or shipping Infectious Substances. Please refer to the DOT and IATA websites for additional information.


Courier ServiceCourier service is available for transporting specimens from many locations throughout the service area of Warde Medical Laboratory. This includes same day delivery in certain geographic areas or overnight delivery under controlled conditions. Special courier services can be established if appropriate arrangements are made. Please contact the Client Services Department to make any courier arrangements.


Mailing Specimens Warde Medical Laboratory can provide standard mailing containers to transport biologic specimens from locations that do not require courier service.

For specimens that do not have specific temperature requirements, place the specimen and test requisition in the mailer provided. Please label Ambient Specimen - Do Not Refrigerate on the outside of the package.

Refrigerated specimens can be transported using coolant packages. Place the specimen, test requisition, and coolant pack in the mailer provided. Please label Refrigerated Specimen - Do Not Freeze on the outside of the package.

Frozen specimens must be transported in shipping containers packed with five pounds of dry ice. Use only plastic vials or containers for sample aliquots. The vial or container for each specimen shipped should not be more than three-fourths full. Samples that must remain frozen should not be shipped using standard coolants. Place the specimen and test requisition in a plastic bag before packing with dry ice. Please label Frozen Specimen on the outside of the package.


Unacceptable SpecimensTo assure optimum integrity of patient specimens from the time of collection until testing is completed and results reported, all specimens submitted to Warde Medical Laboratory for testing must be properly collected, labeled, processed, and transported.  The following represents some reasons for specimen rejection or test cancellation:

  • Leaking specimens
  • Improper labeled specimens
  • Inappropriate specimen type
  • Specimens received in expired transport containers or media
  • Glass tubes unless otherwise specified
  • Syringes with needles attached
  • Tubes from an automatic aliquot system with a “pop top” type of cap
  • Transport tubes secured with parafilm
  • Serum and plasma separator devices (SST and PST), unless otherwise specified.  When a separator tube is used for collection, promptly centrifuge the specimen and pour the serum or plasma into a Warde Medical Laboratory Standardized Transport Tube
  • Urine containers with tubing and needle

If the integrity of the sample prevents us from maintaining quality standards, a representative from the Client Services Department will notify a representative from your facility to request a new sample.


Specimen Labeling & Request FormsWarde Medical laboratory provides specimen label printers for those clients with electronic interfaces.  The specimen labels are printed with bar-coded patient demographics and unique accession numbers for positive patient identification.

For those clients without electronic interfaces, specimen labels and customized multi-part requisitions are provided.  Please include the patient’s name on each specimen label.  Extra labels are provided for ease of aliquoting specimens and record keeping.  The request form has space provided for a variety of patient demographic information.  Billing information may be provided in the separate billing section on the form.


SuppliesWarde Medical Laboratory will provide at no charge all the necessary forms and supplies for specimen collection and transportation. Should a client have a supply need, a Supply Requisition is completed and sent to the laboratory via courier. Supply requests may also be made by telephone by calling Client Services at 1-800-760-9969. Your order will be processed promptly and delivered as quickly as possible.


Cancellations A test may be cancelled without charge before the specimen has been assayed. Please notify the Client Services Department if a test request should need cancellation.


Test AdditionsWarde Medical Laboratory holds most samples for ten days. Some specimens, such as positive forensic drug screen samples, are held for longer periods of time. Test additions can be made if sufficient volume is available after the initial tests are completed and if sample integrity is acceptable. Please contact the Client Services Department if an additional test is requested.


Test Reporting The information system at Warde Medical Laboratory permits easy transmission of test reports directly to the client's facility. Reports may also be delivered with the courier for those clients who do not have direct reporting capabilities.