COMMON PROBLEMS WITH SAMPLES
Safe, efficient processing of samples is a team effort between laboratory clients and accessioning office staff. The following common mistakes create safety concerns, degrade the diagnostic value of specimens, and delay the processing of samples.
1. Fresh tissue samples.
- Sample shipped with inadequate or no cooling.
- For Friday cases, fresh tissue samples should be refrigerated over the weekend and shipped on Monday by overnight courier service.
- Be aware of 3-day weekends and ship after the weekend; refer to Business Hours. Fresh tissue samples shipped without secondary, leak-proof packaging; interior of shipping container soiled with blood and body fluids.
- No warning (phone call, email, or note on package) of potentially zoonotic disease samples in package.
2. Biopsy and other histopathology samples
- Biopsy samples have no label on the specimen container; include animal name, owner name, and clinic case number.
- Biopsy sample submitted without secondary, leak-proof packaging.
- Biopsy submitted in pill bottles, which are not designed for fluid containment.
- Fresh tissue wedged into a rigid container with small opening. After fixation, the firm, fixed tissue cannot be removed without cutting open the container.
- Submission form placed in secondary container with leaking biopsy; papers arrive soaked in formalin.
- Biopsy shipped in container with Biohazard symbol. This is not necessary and creates high levels of concern if identified by the courier.
3. Blood tubes
- Blood tube boxes and containers contain discarded needles.
- Blood tubes inadequately packaged; arrive leaking due to loose caps or stopper, or tube broken.
- Blood tubes inadequately labeled.
- Blood tubes coated in dried, crusted blood.
- Use of out-date forms. Current approved forms are available at Submission Forms. Incomplete veterinary contact information.
- Submission form lacks signature of submitting, responsible person.
- Incomplete client identification on form
- Incomplete animal identification on form: ID, breed, sex, age
Must be capable of successfully passing a drop test form a height of approximately 4 ft.
Must be labeled with the following “BIOLOGICAL SUBSTANCE – CATEGORY B – UN 3373” and “Diagnostic Specimen packed in compliance with IATA Packing Instructions 650”.
Must be at least 4 inches in the smallest overall external dimension.
LABELING THE SPECIMENS:
- Label each specimen with the owner's last name and the animal's name/number, and the tissue type.
- For serology, clearly distinguish acute samples from convalescent samples.
- Label serology tubes from herds or flocks in numerical and consecutive order (1, 2, 3, etc.)
Primary receptacle – must be leak-proof and must not contain more than 1L each. Primary container MUST be closed by positive means (i.e. tape or parafilm)
Absorbent material – between the primary receptacle and the secondary packaging, must be capable of absorbing all liquid in primary receptacle.
Secondary packaging – must be leak-proof,
Outer packaging – must not contain more than 4L total.
PACKAGING & SHIPPING INSTRUCTIONS
It is the shipper’s responsibility to know and follow shipping/mailing regulations – including any necessary staff training- for sending diagnostic specimens to the laboratory, regardless of the carrier chosen. Recent significant changes to the regulations for shipping diagnostic, clinical, or patient specimens can be found on the websites for all major carriers.
Briefly, all clinical or diagnostic samples must be triple packaged, with a primary leak-proof container placed into a secondary, leak-proof container along with sufficient absorbent material to fully absorb the liquid content in the event of a spill or breakage during transport. The outer package must be made of sturdy rigid construction (cooler, corrugated fiberboard, rigid plastic). THE PACKAGE MUST NOT LEAK!
Outer packaging composed of brown paper envelopes, plastic carrier envelopes (i.e., UPS or FedEx envelopes), and Styrofoam containers, are NOT IN COMPLIANCE. All three major carriers in Alabama (USPS, UPS, and FedEx) have warned that improperly prepared or labeled packages are subject to return or disposal in the near future. Laboratory clients are strongly encouraged following the proper regulations now to avoid such problems. Compliant packaging is available from a variety of vendors. We prefer Saf-T-Pak (www.saftpak.com) products.
Exempt Animal Specimens vs. Biological Substance, Category B
Animal specimens for which there is minimal likelihood that pathogens are present are not subject to the Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) if the specimen is packaged and handled for transport safely.
Examples of specimens that may be transported as “Exempt Animal Specimens” are:
1. Substances in a form that any present pathogens have been neutralized or inactivated such that they no longer pose a health risk i.e. formalin fixed tissues
2. Environmental samples (including food samples), which are not considered to pose a significant risk of infection.
3. Direct patient specimen for which a professional judgment has determined a minimal likelihood of containing a pathogen i.e. blood & serum
Specimens must be packaged so as not to leak and the box MUST be marked “Exempt Animal Specimen”
All other samples should be sent using IATA Packing Instructions 650 for Biological Substances, Category B –training is required!
PACKAGING THE SPECIMENS:
- Multiple fragile primary containers should be wrapped separately.
- Place the tubes into the serum boxes in the order corresponding to the test charts.
- Ship frozen or refrigerated material in a properly insulated container, clearly marked on the outside as a frozen/refrigerated laboratory specimen.
- Use gel packs for a refrigerant.
- Enclose the submittal form(s) in a waterproof bag and place it on top of the specimens in the shipping container.
SHIPPING THE SPECIMENS
- Shipping by overnight courier is preferred.
- The sender is responsible for postage or special delivery charges.
- NOTE: Do not ship on Fridays, as we are not open on the weekend and will not receive the package until Monday.
Shipping Address: Postal, UPS and Fed Ex
NOTE: WE NO LONGER HAVE A PO BOX. ALL MAIL MUST BE SHIPPED TO OUR PHYSICAL ADDRESS.
TBS State Diagnostic Laboratory
890 Simms Road
Auburn, AL 36832
- Diagnostic specimens must be shipped in accordance with the U.S. Government Code of Federal Regulations. See reference above.
- The Alabama Diagnostic Laboratories accept specimens only from the United States. No permits have been issued to accept specimens from outside of the USA.
- Our Shipping & Receiving Department (334-844-7226) can assist with referring to appropriate resources or answering shipping questions. The ultimate responsibility however for knowing and following the regulations rests with the submitter.
Primary receptacle – must be sift-proof and must not contain more than 4kg each.
Secondary packaging – must be leak-proof.
Outer packaging – must not contain more than 4 kg total.