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Sample acceptance

The laboratory has implemented a system for rejecting samples that fail to meet the sample acceptance criteria. This will ensure that:

1. The correct test result is issued to the correct women who attends for cervical screening
2. There are no concerns about the identity of the woman from whom the sample has been collected
3. There is a reduction in the number of phone calls to resolve discrepancies
4. The laboratory is able to comply with the 7-day turn around standard for all samples

See the Manchester Cytology Centre NHS Cervical Screening Sample Acceptance Policy

Essential patient data are surname, forename, date of birth & NHS number

At least 3 of the 4 patient identifiers must be provided - this makes allowances for Contraceptive & Sexual Health services as they may not have access to the NHS number.

On the form On the vial


Full forename

Date of birth

NHS number


Forename or initial

Date of birth

NHS number


A senior biomedical scientist oversees the sample rejection process. All rejections are coded with the relevant error code. This provides the laboratory with a means of auditing rejected samples.

Minor discrepancies

Minor discrepancies will be accepted as the patient identity is known

1. Spelling error in patient name but the name sounds the same (homonyms)
2. Transposition of digits within the date of birth or NHS number
3. Specimen without form, or vice versa - contact the sample taker to seek an explanation
4. Request form without sender details - check Open Exeter and phone GP to confirm

Major discrepancies

Major discrepancies constitute a serious risk as the patient identity is uncertain and the sample must be  rejected.

1. Absence of two or more essential data items
2. Mismatch between the vial and the form
3. Two or more minor discrepancies
4. Unlabelled vial


(Last updated January 11th 2017)