Specimen Collection, Preparation & Handling Procedures

Accurate laboratory results begin with proper preparation on the part of the patient and continues with proper specimen collection, processing and handling by you, the health care professional. This site is updated regularly to provide the most current information available.

Proper supplies

Main Line Health Laboratories provides its clients with supplies necessary for the collection, processing and referral of specimens to our laboratory. You may obtain supplies by contacting the Client Service Center at 484.580.4200.

Labeling requirements

Accurate labeling of patient specimens is critical to ensuring the accurate reporting of patient results. Main Line Health Laboratories in compliance with the Joint Commission (JCAHO) standards, requires that each specimen be labeled with at least two identifiers:

  • Patient’s full name
  • A second identifier, such as the patient’s date of birth or Medical Record number

Surgical pathology and cytology specimens (tissue biopsies, Fine Needle Aspirates, brushings, pap smears) and blood bank specimens require additional information:

Specimens may be labeled by either writing on the blood collection tube label or by affixing a label. Patient identification information must match the accompanying laboratory requisition form.

Health and safety precautions

Main Line Health Laboratories strongly recommends that its clients observe universal precautions when collecting specimens. Please follow proper blood collection techniques to minimize the risk of transmitting infectious diseases to clinical staff, and wear gloves when appropriate.

NCCLS document M29-A, "Protection of Laboratory Workers from Infectious Disease Transmitted by Blood, Body Fluids, and Tissue, Approved Guideline," provides specific recommendations. A copy can be obtained from: NCCLS, 940 West Valley Road, Suite 1400, Wayne, PA 19087.

Patient preparation

Information about lab tests requiring special preparation on the part of the patient, such as fasting, dietary restrictions and special scheduling requirements.

Specimen collection procedures

Follow the links below for standard collection procedures:

Specimen preparation procedures

Recommended methods for processing patient specimens to ensure the most accurate laboratory results.

For more information

For assistance with specimen requirements, please call Client Services at 484.580.4200. Billing inquiries should be directed to 484.337.1970.