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Blood Specimen Collection Guidelines

Information in this section and in the APL Test Directory has been provided to ensure the specimen is properly collected, prepared, and preserved during and after collection for transport. The integrity and quality of the result depends on these instructions being adhered to. Failure to do so may result in recollection.


Blood Collection

  • The phlebotomist (blood collector) will collect blood specimens ordered by the physician, by venipuncture or skin puncture.
  • The phlebotomists are limited to drawing from approved blood collection sites (see: Blood Collection Site Selection).
  • Phlebotomists DO NOT collect arterial blood.
  • Laboratory Assistants are not authorized under the Criminal Code of Canada to collect specimens for law enforcement.



Patient Identification

  • Laboratory staff will not collect blood from patients with missing or illegible identification bands.
  • The phlebotomist will identify an inpatient for blood collection by use of the patient's hospital identification band.               
  • In exceptions where a clinical condition prevents a patient from wearing an identification band, the phlebotomist will obtain the identification of the patient from the attending nurse or physician before blood collection. The identifying health care professional will sign a form indicating they identified the patient as well as the reason for the exception. 

Inpatients Absent for Scheduled Collection               

  • Phlebotomists will make a reasonable effort to locate patients for collection.                
  • If a patient cannot be located on the identified unit, the phlebotomist will notify nursing unit personnel.  It is then the responsibility of the unit to contact the laboratory, on the return of the patient, for blood collection. 


Hospital Outpatients and Patient Service Centre Patients

Patients from community physicians' offices are encouraged to book an appointment online at a Patient Service Centre. Hospital outpatient collection sites will prioritize hospital patients.

Patient Identification

  • The phlebotomist will identify the patient by asking them to state and spell their full name and state their birth date (year, month and day), as well as by obtaining two pieces of acceptable identification.
    The preferred, acceptable list of documents includes valid provincial or territorial health care card PLUS one of the following government issued photo identification:
    • Valid driver's license
    • Valid passport (including out of country issued passports)
    • Canadian citizenship card
    • Certificate of Indian Status card
    • Valid Alberta or other government issued student identification card
    • Federal, provincial and/or territorial government issued identification with a photograph
    • Other acceptable original documents include:
      • Birth certificate
      • Marriage certificate
      • Legal change of name certificate
      • Final divorce certificate
      • Citizenship/Immigration status document (student permit, temporary resident, interim federal health certificate of eligibility)
      • Certified copy of the court order for name change
      • Court of Queen's Bench Adoption Order
  • Pediatric patients may be identified by their parent or guardian.


Mobile Collection Services Patients

Refer to Mobile Collection Service Information for Physicians or Mobile Collection Service Information for Patients.


When Blood Specimen is Not Collected

Phlebotomists will not collect blood and will consult with patient's nurse or physician if one of the following situations is encountered:

  • Two phlebotomists are unable to obtain the required blood after a total of four collection attempts
  • The phlebotomist is unable to find a useable approved collection site
  • The patient refuses to have a phlebotomist collect the blood
  • The phlebotomist deems the situation unsafe
  • An arterial specimen is requested

Pretransfusion Testing

For patient identification for pretransfusion testing, please see Transfusion Medicine - Pretransfusion Testing.