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Specimen Rejection

The laboratory reserves the right to refuse improperly labelled specimens.  Consistent practices for specimen rejection are employed across CLS.  The laboratory takes measures to maintain specimen integrity during the process of following up on the receipt of an improperly identified specimen.  The laboratory recognizes that, in certain cases where the specimen is less common, involves an invasive procedure or could not otherwise be easily recollected, it may be acceptable to apply an exception to specimen rejection.  Exceptions are applied using strict and explicit criteria in accordance with established procedures.

Generally, improperly identified specimens are not discarded until the collection site or the responsible nursing unit is notified.  The high number of specimens received by the laboratory makes it impossible to positively identify specimens that are not clearly labelled in accordance with specimen identification (labelling) criteria. Refer Sample Labelling Requirements for more information.

General Rejection Criteria

Unlabelled Specimens

  • Unlabelled specimens are considered to be Major Deficiencies
  • Common specimen types (blood, urine, swabs, sputum, stool, etc.) which can be easily recollected and cannot with certainty be identified, will require recollection.
  • Specimens which are less common and more difficult to recollect (CSF, fluids, tissues, etc.) will require the person who collected them to identify the specimen and sign a waiver assuming responsibility for the identification of the specimen.
  • If the person responsible for collecting the specimen is unable with certainty to identify the specimen, the appropriate Clinical Leader or designate and ordering physician will be notified.

Incorrectly Labelled (Mislabelled) Specimens

  • Mislabelled specimens may be Major or Minor Deficiencies
  • Specimens which are labelled with the wrong patient's name compared to that of the accompanying requisition or with a different patient's ID number, the same criteria as for Unlabelled Specimens apply.
  • Minor deficiencies may be accepted and procedures ordered will be performed (the exception is requests for blood products for transfusion, which must be recollected) however major deficiencies may be rejected.

Incorrect Container or Preservative

  • Specimens received in an incorrect container, or without appropriate preservative, which would invalidate the results, will require recollection.  The collection site or nursing unit will be informed.  In the case of a Patient Service Centre, the patient will be contacted to arrange for recollection of certain specimens.

Insufficient Specimen for Procedure(s)

  • If insufficient specimen is received for all procedures requested and the specimen is easily recollectable (urine, stool, sputum, blood, etc.), a repeat collection will be requested.  Procedure(s) for which there is sufficient specimen will be performed.
  • If the specimen is not easily recollectable (CSF, fluids, etc.), the ordering physician will be contacted to establish a priority order of tests to be performed.

Unsuitable Specimen for Procedure(s)

  • Specimens which are received and are unsuitable for the procedure requested (saliva for sputum test, urine for blood tests) or if the specimen has been in transit too long for a valid result, the specimen will be rejected.  The nursing unit or collection site will be informed so a proper specimen can be collected.