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Package and transportation of samples

Samples taken at central site must be sent with the porter and not via the pneumatic tube.

Synovial fluid samples requiring transport on the public road must be packaged and transported in compliance with "The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations (ADR Regulations) 2011". Specimens must be packaged according to P650 instructions with a UN3373 diamond point label - Biological
Substance, Category B.

Please note instructions P650 requires three layers of packaging:

  • Primary container (e.g. universal tube, vial)
  • Secondary container (e.g. specimen bag)
  • Outer packaging (e.g. rigid transport box).

The primary sample must be individually bagged in a secondary bag and sealed. If the sample is liquid, enough absorbent material must be added to the secondary bag to absorb a potential spillage of the sample. The request form must be placed in the specimen bag's separate pouch.

Specimens must then be placed in a rigid box and closed. The box must comply with Transport Regulations. The outside must be clearly labelled Biological Substance Category B, with a UN3373 diamond label. The laboratory address should be clearly written.

If a sample is sent by post, please note that Royal Mail will only carry UN3373 Diagnostic Specimens if they are packed following Packaging Instruction P650 and:

  • Are sent by first class post or Special Delivery and to inland addresses only
  • The packet is marked with the sender's name, telephone number and address

Specimens must be delivered to the laboratory within 24 hours. If there is unavoidable delay in sending the specimen, please keep it refrigerated at 4°C.

If possible send specimens on the first 4 working days of the week as the laboratory is not open at weekends.

If sepsis is suspected and the laboratory receives a telephone call in advance then an urgent specimen will be processed if it arrives before 16:00hrs. Other urgent samples must arrive before 13:30hrs to be processed on the same day.


(Last reviewed October 20th 2017)