Instructions by Specimen Type


Microbiology Specimens

Step 1:

Determine the Specimen Requirements

In the Test Catalog, use the Specimen and Overview tabs of each test to identify:

  • Patient preparation requirements
  • Specimen requirements
  • Specimen container requirements
  • Specimen stability (temperature) requirements
  • Collection instructions
  • Required forms or special instructions

Containers must be capable of withstanding, without leakage, an internal pressure of 95 kPa in the range of -40°C to 55°C.

Step 2:

Label the Specimen

Specimens must have two person-specific identifiers on the patient label. Person-specific identifiers include:

  • Accession number
  • Patient's first and last name
  • Unique identifying number (for example, medical record number)
  • Date of birth

Mislabeled Specimens

Specimens are considered mislabeled when there is a mismatch between the person-specific identifiers on the specimen and the information accompanying the specimen. This information might include a computer system, requisition form, or additional paperwork.

In addition, if a handwritten name and a label are on the container, the information must match exactly. For example, "Rebecca" does not match "Becky." When insufficient or inconsistent identification is submitted, a new specimen may be required.

Step 3:

Package the Specimen in a Biohazard Bag

Biohazard Shipping Bags

T229 Refrigerate Specimen Bag - pink T027 Ambient Specimen Bag - white T121 Frozen Bag - yellow

Place the tube or container in a Mayo Clinic Laboratories color-coded (temperature-specific) shipping bag.

12x15 Biohazard Bag

T043 Biohazard Bag - 12x15 Use if your container is too large for color-coded bags. Mark it Frozen, Refrigerate, or Room Temp (Ambient).

Electronic Clients:

  • Clients who submit electronic orders will have a batch order. Place all specimens for the temperature-specific batch number into one bag. If all the specimens do not fit, use a larger biohazard bag (T043) and indicate the shipping temperature.
  • Do not place multiple batches into one bag.
If you are not using a bag supplied by Mayo Clinic Laboratories:
  • The bag must be leakproof.
  • There must be absorbent material between the primary receptacle (tube/container) and the secondary packaging (bag) that is able to absorb the entire contents of the bag.
  • Wrap any breakable tubes individually in bubble wrap (T055).

Step 4:

Package Batch Sheets and Forms

Folded batch sheet in outside pocket of bag

Folded batch sheet with bar code and delivery address visible

Electronic Clients

Clients who submit electronic orders will have a batch sheet. The bottom of the batch sheet lists the number of pages (for example, 1 of 3). Fold the batch sheets into fourths and place them in the outside pocket of the bag. If there is no pocket, place them inside the bag with the specimens. Include all pages in the corresponding bag. The delivery address and bar code, if applicable, must be visible. Do not combine multiple batches into one bag.

Manual Clients

Clients who do not order electronically must include a completed Test Request form with each patient specimen. Fold and insert the forms into the outside pocket of the biohazard bag. If there is no pocket, place the forms inside the bag with the specimen.