Specimen collection and management
Practice managers should provide staff with guidelines on the correct management of specimens obtained during procedures for pathology examination, including collection, handling, labelling and documentation.
Correct management of specimens
Specimens obtained for pathology examination should be correctly
managed in order to minimise any risk of an adverse event.
practices have an on-site, or a professional relationship with a, pathology
service. The pathology service is an excellent resource for education and
protocols for specimen collection and management.
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There are standard
precautions or protocols that staff should follow when handling specimens.
Staff should be educated in the different types of specimens and methods of
handling, as relevant. For example:
- A specimen for assessment of
potential infection may need to be placed.
- culture medium, or possibly
in a sterile container for immediate processing.
- A fixed specimen is
smeared on a slide and sprayed with a fixative (e.g. Pap smear).
routine histopathology specimen will usually need to be placed in a container
with a preservative (e.g. formalin) and sent to pathology within a certain
period of time.
Staff should receive hazardous
substance training to ensure formalin is handled safely and a spill kit should
be available nearby.
There should be adequate supplies of appropriate
specimen jars or slides for the intended list.
Correct labelling is critical on the
specimen container, pathology request form, pathology record book and patient
care form, as the results may determine further treatment for that patient.
Labelling should include the patient’s name, UR/practice file number, gender,
address, patient’s doctor, name of practice, date, time of specimen collection
and anatomical labelling of specimen (e.g. left or right).
labelling should be checked by both the nurse and doctor involved in the
specimens and pathology request forms should be placed in leak-proof
containers and sealed in a biohazard specimen bag for transport. Potentially
infectious specimens should be double bagged.
Transport of specimens
should be organised promptly according to the pathology company
The treating medical practitioner should check all
results prior to filing and follow up with the patient as appropriate (See
Tracking Tests )
- Finding enough hours in the day
- Appointment system
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