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Sample packaging, labelling and transport

Published on 30 January 2019

If you're sending samples to us, it's important that they are packaged, labelled and transferred correctly.

Sample packaging

Samples must be packaged in accordance with Packaging Instruction P650 (UN3373, Diagnostic Specimens).
The packaging must consist of three components:

  1. A primary receptacle
  2. A secondary packaging
  3. An outer packing

Primary receptacles should be packed in secondary packaging in such a way that, under normal conditions of carriage, they cannot break, be punctured or leak their contents into the secondary packaging.

Secondary packaging should be secured in outer packaging with suitable cushioning material. Any leakage of the contents shall not compromise the integrity of the cushioning material or of the outer packaging.

For carriage, the UN 3373 mark must be displayed on the external surface of the outer packaging on a background of a contrasting colour and must be clearly visible and legible.

The width of the line shall be at least 2mm - the letters and numbers shall be at least 6mm high.

See an example UN3373 mark.

Sample labelling

Samples that are received for laboratory examinations must be labelled in accordance with our policy on acceptance criteria for sample labelling within clinical laboratories.

Read our acceptance criteria for sample tubes and request forms.

All samples must be labelled with the patient’s CHI number – an alternative unique identifier (hospital number or emergency number) may only be used if the patient does not have a CHI number.

If addressograph labels are used for sample request forms and/or sample tubes the responsibility is with the clinician/responsible person taking the sample.

Samples received that do not meet with the described sample acceptance criteria may not be tested.

Sample transfer

Samples that originate from the Aberdeen, Tayside, Fife, Borders and Highlands areas are transported by SNBTS scheduled runs to our Edinburgh lab.

It is the responsibility of the clinical team to ensure that any samples for transfer to Edinburgh reach the required dispatch area of local blood banks. Samples are placed in red clinical transportation boxes by SNBTS staff for delivery.

Samples from Lothian hospitals and Lothian GP practices are uplifted by the LUHT van service.