Laboratory Specimen Packaging and Transport
Transportation of Laboratory Specimens
The transport of laboratory specimens is regulated by the Canadian Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and Regulations (TDG). This legislation requires packaging that will protect specimens during transport and prevent contact with the public and the environment. This is accomplished by using the following 3-part packaging system:
- A primary leak proof container (i.e. specimen collection container).
- A secondary leak proof container (i.e. zip-lock bag) to contain any leakage in the event of damage.
- A rigid outer packaging (i.e. specimen transport box – STB) to protect specimens from damage if package is dropped.
Instructions for Packaging Specimens
All specimens must be packaged carefully to avoid breakage or leakage of the specimen.
- Ensure all container lids are tightly secured before packaging.
- Ensure specimens are labelled according to CLS protocol.
- Place blood tubes, urine containers, etc. containing liquid in upright position in the box. Always transport the specimen transport box (STB) in an upright position.
- Package Microbiology, Cytology and Anatomic Pathology specimens into individual 6” x 9” bags (available on the Physician Supply Form). Please use one requisition per patient and place it in the bag’s outside pouch.
- Place multiple microbiology samples collected from one patient (e.g. a cervical swab and vaginal swab but NOT including Cytology and/or Anatomical Pathology samples), together into one 6”x9” bag.
- DO NOT roll specimen in the requisition or attach specimen to the requisition using tape, elastics, staples or patient demographic labels. See Specimen Packaging Instructions for pictures of correct specimen packing.
- Place all bagged samples, racks, etc. into a large Ziploc bag.
- Please follow established procedures for transport to the lab. Calgary Laboratory Services couriers will pick up as per the current schedule.
The couriers are also provided with spare STBs, which they use for pick-up of specimens from physician offices or clinics. To provide safe handling these specimens should be placed inside a sealable plastic bag (preferably a two pocket zip-lock specimen bag) prior to pick-up by the courier.
Keep specimens refrigerated before forwarding unless otherwise indicated. When ready to forward, enclose ice pack to assist in maintaining temperature.
Frozen Specimens from CLS Sites
- DO NOT freeze specimens at the collection site on weekdays unless otherwise noted. Transport to the DSC as soon as possible; store specimen in refrigerator until courier pickup. Clearly mark “FREEZE” on the specimen container to ensure it is frozen upon receipt at DSC. For transport, secure specimen between two ice packs in order to maintain refrigerated conditions during transport.
DO NOT transport to DSC on weekends or on STAT holidays; keep frozen at the collection site until first regular working day. Clearly mark “FREEZE” on the specimen container. For transport, pack in dry ice if possible or secure specimen between two ice packs in order to maintain frozen state during transport.
Use plastic containers when sending frozen specimens. Never fill more than three-quarters full to avoid tube breaking or caps popping during freezing.