Specimens, requests, reports

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The instructions for taking swabs and bloods to the lab in and out of hours, and for taking swabs for testing, can be downloaded from the BSUH intranet here.

Sample requirements
Request forms and specimen labelling
Handling and transport of specimens, including via pneumatic air tubes



Sample requirements

Blood samples should be collected using the Greiner Vacuette® system. If collecting more than one sample please use the recommended order of draw to avoid contamination.

Download Greiner Draw Order poster

Greiner draw order chart shows correct order and gives useful information on taking blood samples.

Download Greiner adult tube selection poster

Greiner adult tube selection poster (this revision Nov 2011)

Download amendment to coagulation tubes Amendment to coagulation tubes, Dec 2015
Download Greiner paediatric tube selection poster
Greiner paediatric tube selection poster (this revision June 2012)
Download Greiner paediatric tube selection poster
BD Microtainer tubes for neonatal use (restricted range of tests)


Further details of requirements for these and many more tests can be found on this site - use the A to Z index or search function to check the listings.

For urine, faeces and other samples please check the listings if in doubt, as requirements vary depending on the test.

Full details of CSF collection requirements can be found here.


Request forms and specimen labelling

All specimens must be labelled with full patient identification and be accompanied by a request form giving full clinical details and signed by a doctor, in accordance with BSUH Pathology Specimen and Request Form Labelling Requirements.

Download specimen and form labelling requirements

Pathology Specimen and Request Form Labelling Requirements (revision 3, last reviewed 31.1.2017)


Please use the correct type of request form and fill it in properly to allow the sample to be processed efficiently. Click here for more information about completing request forms.


Handling and transport of specimens

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The instructions for taking swabs and bloods to the lab in and out of hours, and for taking swabs for testing, can be downloaded from the BSUH intranet here.

Specimens must be transported to the laboratory in sealed plastic transport bags, with the request form in the open pocket.

Larger specimens, such as some histology specimens or 24h urine collections, should be enclosed in individual plastic bags and sealed to prevent leakage.

Specimens collected in the hospital should be transported in plastic containers that are capable of retaining spillages and can be cleaned and disinfected.

All GP surgery specimens are to be labelled and transported to the laboratory sealed in the plastic bag attached to the request form.


Download Model Rules for porters

Model rules for porters, couriers and messengers who need to carry samples. (revision 4, last updated 10/07/2018)


Use of pneumatic air tube system (pods)

Samples being transported in air-tube carriers must be packed into a sealed plastic bag. Note that samples for some tests should NOT be transported by pod:


CSF samples for xanthochromia scanning (risk of red cell lysis, which can compromise results).

Samples that are being sent on ice (e.g. ACTH, gut hormone profile, insulin/C-peptide). These samples should be brought to lab in person.

Cryoglobulins (sample must be brought to lab at 37°C).


Blood culture bottles.

High-risk samples:

High-risk samples include specimens from patients known or suspected to have certain infectious diseases MUST NOT be submitted via the pneumatic air tube system. They must be delivered by hand directly to Pathology (contact Trust Porters on ext.3250):

  • Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis)
  • Brucellosis (Brucella spp.)
  • CJD / Creutzfeld-Jakob disease and other Prion diseases / TSE agents
  • Coccidioides / paracoccidioides and other dimorphic fungi
  • Dysentery (caused by Shigella dysenteriae)
  • Enteric fever - see Typhoid / Paratyphoid fever
  • Faecal samples from patients with Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome, VTEC (e.g. E.coli O157) etc.
  • Melioidosis (Burkholderia mallei or pseudomallei)
  • MERS / Middle East Respiratory Syndrome
  • Plague (Yersinia pestis)
  • Pleural and respiratory fluid samples from patients with TB (Mycobacterium tuberculosis)
  • SARS / Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
  • SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus COVID-19) - see info box above.
  •  Typhoid / Paratyphoid fever (Salmonella Typhi or Paratyphi A, B or C)
  • Tularaemia (Francisella tularaemia)

VHF / Viral haemorrhagic fever (e.g. Ebola, Lassa, Marburg etc.)  - DO NOT SEND. DO NOT submit VHF samples to Pathology - contact the Consultant Virologist or duty Microbiologist, collection will be arranged (click here for further information).


Results are viewable on ICE Desktop or on GP systems as soon as they are available. For information on how to access ICE Desktop click here. Please use the enquiry system before contacting the laboratories. Telephoning for results should be avoided because of the risk of transcription errors.

Paper reports, for destinations that still require them, are sent out to wards at 1.30 pm and 4.30 pm via the portering system. Results for outpatients and other departments are sent daily via the internal mail. Results for General Practitioners are sent out daily by post, or returned on specimen runs.

All histology and cytology reports are sent to the requesting clinician's secretary or to the GP as appropriate.

Results can NOT be accessed through this site.