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Test information (FAQ)
How do I order a test?
By following these tips, you will help us to provide you with the best possible service.
- Complete the request forms. Please note that for most investigations a minimum of three patient identifiers (forename, surname and DOB) are required on form and specimen. The location and clinician codes, whilst not necessary, will speed up the processing of the specimen. (The most common rejection of specimens relates to incomplete or missing information).
- Be clear and legible and label specimens correctly e.g. John Smith NOT J Smith.
- Fill the blood specimen bottles to the mark. Short specimens cannot be handled automatically, and this causes delay and increases the risk of a mistake.
- Avoid haemolysis. Green and blue needles are standard. Orange needles are available for patients where it may be difficult to obtain a specimen e.g. children. Please be aware that haemolysis is more likely to occur with orange needles.
What should I remember to ensure efficient and effective testing?
The following criteria are essential to ensure effective and efficient testing:-
- Correct labelling. (See Mandatory Labelling Criteria)
- Correctly filled citrate samples. (e.g. not under or over-filled)
- Please package carefully, to avoid leakage/breakage, and note appropriate postal regulations (where applicable).
- Some samples will deteriorate with time therefore they should be sent to the laboratory without delay.
- Appropriate transport conditions: e.g. frozen specimens transported in a way that avoids allowing them to thaw.
- Requesting clinicians will be notified if a specimen has not been accepted due to any of the conditions listed.
- As enzymes are affected by delays in transit, samples for enzyme analysis must be received within 24 hours of collection. Therefore further investigations can only be requested within this time period. Further testing usually requires a fresh specimen.
- Please ensure transcription between request form and sample are correct.
How do I have to label the specimen(s)?
All specimens and request forms must show three unique identifiers:-
- First Name
- Family Name
- Date of Birth
NB: We place a high priority on patient safety, therefore samples/requests where full names are substituted by initials will be treated as per the 'Sample Acceptance Policy' and may lead to a delay in your results.
In addition, the following information may also be supplied:-
- Date and time written on blood tube
- Hospital Number
- NHS Number
Request forms should give details of the requestor and the location:
- Internal Request - Location (ward code) and clinician details/code.
- External Request - Address label/surgery and GP details.
Request forms should be dated and signed by those taking the specimen.
How do specimens need to be transported?
Samples for the laboratory must be sent in accordance with guidelines to ensure they arrive in a fit condition to be analysed, in order to provide an accurate and reliable result. Please refer to the A-Z test index for specific details.
Specimens must be received with a completed request form or, for internal users, a completed EPR request with associated specimen labelling. Blood samples sent for genetic analysis are stable at ambient temperature for several days and should not be frozen for transportation.
Haemostasis specimens must be delivered within four hours of taking the sample.
Specimens containing formalin must be securely sealed to prevent leaks, and should not be packed with other specimens (to prevent contamination).
Specimens that require freezing must arrive in a frozen state.
Please refer to each department for contact details.
What if I need to add extra tests to a specimen?
We appreciate there are times when you need to call the laboratory to request additional tests to a sample we have already received or have stored. Please be aware that as some laboratories store samples in the short, medium and long term, it can take time to locate the specimen, add the test and re-sample. Not all specimens will be suitable for additional tests or retesting due to sample age or quality (certain tests are time critical) but please contact the individual laboratory for further information.
How do I order tests on EPR?
You will need to speak with the Electronic Patient Record (EPR) training team to find out how to book test's on EPR.
How do I transport samples between hospitals?
You will need to take the package to Central Specimen Reception (CSR) complete with full address and department cost code to bill for courier.
How long does it takes to process samples?
Each lab varies with turnaround times. Please contact the relevant lab to find out about specific turn around times.
GSTS Pathology's Sample Acceptance Policy
GSTS Pathology is working hard to ensure we provide the best service to all our users. Part of this commitment is to make sure all samples are fit for acceptance the first time, every time and to minimise rejections.
That is why GSTS has developed clear guidelines known as our Specimen Acceptance Policy. Please ensure that all samples adhere to the standards set out in the Specimen Acceptance Policy here.