Quick Guide For Clinicians
Pathologists are available for on-call consultation to assist clinicians. Where available, direct dial phone numbers are available for each division under the Diagnostic Services menu.
Assistance and interpretation for:
A variety of request forms with attachable labels are available for your use. These include:
- Standard A5 IMVS pathology request forms
- A4 forms for computer-based programs such as Medical Director
Pre-printed forms are also available. These will have the requesting doctor's name and details already printed onto the form.
Repeat request forms will have the doctor's name and details, patient's details and test request information. To receive these forms, place a tick in the 'Repeat Request' box on the standard IMVS request form.
Packs of forms with attached plastic specimen bags (Pathopaks) and peel-off specimen tube barcode labels are available as are packs without bags.
Labelling requirements for specimens
Request form and specimens must have:
- Family name in full plus first forename in full, plus at least one other identifier in the form of either the date of birth or a medical record number.
- ANZSBT guidelines also require that any request forms for transfusion tests be signed by the person collecting the sample. The IMVS recommends that this requirement applies to all specimens.
The IMVS observes the NPAAC, NATA/RCPA and ANZSBT guidelines for the labelling of specimens.
Pre-printed address labels
Pre-printed address labels can be used on diagnostic specimens and request forms. If a label is used for antenatal or prenatal serology, cord blood serology or a transfusion-related request, the signature or initials of the blood collector should still appear on the label.
Supplies for specimen collection
A wide range of products are available to assist you with your specimen collection requirements.
Blood: order of draw
For optimal specimen quality when collecting blood for multiple tests, the following order for filling containers is recommended:
- Sterile tubes (e.g. blood cultures)
- Citrate tubes (blue tops)
- Clotted bloods (white top)
- Heparin tubes (green tops)
- K-EDTA (purple tops)
- Fluoride-EDTA (grey tops)
Mixing of each bottle as soon as it is filled is important.
Preparation and storage
This section is to assist medical and nursing staff in locations where courier services may be infrequent.
For haematological analysis (e.g. cell counts, haemoglobin, CBE)
Store in the refrigerator (approximately 4°C).
Make a blood film if there is likely to be more than a 24-hour delay in transporting the sample to a laboratory.
Bloods for Serum or Plasma Assay
This includes gel tubes, plain tops and lithium heparin tubes.
Stand specimens at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Centrifuge for 10 - 15 minutes at 4000 rpm in a balanced centrifuge.
Store the spun tube in the refrigerator (approximately 4°C).
Coagulation Tests (INR, APTT)
INR: store in the refrigerator (approximately 4°C).
APTT: store in the refrigerator (approximately 4°C).
If the patient is on heparin, store the specimens on ice/water mixture and transport to the laboratory within 4 hours.
Cell Surface Markers
Leave at room temperature and transport to the laboratory within 12 hours.
Collect specimen, prepare a smear and spray with fixative. Ensure the slide is properly labelled.
When the slide is dry, place the smear inside a slide carrier, and store at room temperature (approximately 22°C).
Swabs for Microbiology, Microscopy Culture and Sensitivities (MC&S) and/or Virology
Collect swabs and place into the transport medium provided. Store at room temperature (22°C).
EXCEPTION: Genital swabs (vaginal/urethral) - collect swab and place in charcoal transport medium. Store at room temperature (22°C) in the transport medium.
Sputum, Faeces and Urine for Microbiology, Microscopy Culture and Sensitivities (MC&S) and/or Virology
Store the samples in the refrigerator (approximately 4°C).
24 Hour Urine Collections
If a full collection is indicated, the whole specimen should be sent to the laboratory for measurement. Containers can be obtained by phoning 08 8222 3997, or your nearest regional laboratory.
Specimen retention times
In general, the IMVS follows the requirements for the retention of specimens specified by the National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council (NPAAC).
The following table details our current specimen storage procedure. However, we advise that you call us as sometimes samples are held for longer than NPAAC recommend. We will also be able to let you know if the sample in storage is suitable for an additional examination.
|Specimen Type||Minimum Specimen
|Tissue for pathology (blocks and slides)||20 years|
|Cytology (PAP - smears) and non gynae exfol SM||10 years|
|FNA slides||10 years|
|Materials (i.e. specimens other than slides e.g. sputum)||7 days|
|Whole blood samples||7 days|
|Coag (INR/APTT)||7 days|
|Bone marrow slides||20 years|
|Blood slides||1 year|
|Serum, plasma and body fluids||7 days|
|Urine for drugs of abuse testing||3 months|
|Blood samples||10 days|
|Frozen samples||1 month|
|Blood, serum and plasma||7 days|
|Frozen tissue blocks||2 years|
|Blood, bone marrow (if normal)||6 months|
|General specimens (swabs etc)||7 days|
|Urine and faeces||7 days|
|Blood cultures isolates||6 months|