Collection and Transportation of Microbiology Specimens

Abscess

Abscess material may be collected using the Culturette System, Port-A-Cul system or a sterile syringe and needle. The Culturette System is used only for superficial lesions. This type of specimen will not be cultured for anaerobes. Abscess specimens will only be processed for anaerobes if collected using either the Port-A-Cul system or a syringe and needle. Specimens collected using a sterile syringe and needle must not be transported with the needle on the syringe. Needles must be carefully removed and properly discarded and the syringe cap aseptically replaced on the syringe tip. All specimens must be properly labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, location and the time and date the specimen was collected. Specimens are transported at room temperature and must reach NHRMC lab within 8 hours of collection.

Body Fluids

Body Fluids include; abdominal fluid (ascites fluid/peritoneal), amniotic fluid, pericardial fluid, pleural fluid, and synovial fluid. Specimens are collected using a sterile syringe and needle. Generally, a minimum of 2 mL of specimen is required. Specimens collected using a sterile syringe and needle must not be transported with the needle on the syringe. Needles must be carefully removed and properly discarded and the syringe cap aseptically replaced on the syringe tip. All specimens must be properly labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, location and the time and date the specimen was collected. Specimens are transported at room temperature and must reach NHRMC lab within 8 hours of collection.

Bronchial Aspirates - please refer to Sputum Bronchial Brushings

Bronchial brushes are aseptically placed into a screw-cap tube containing 0.5 mL of 1% casamino acid. Specimens must be labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, location, and the time and date the specimen was collected. Specimens transported at room temperature must reach NHRMC lab within 2 hours of collection. Alternatively, specimens are transported at refrigeration temperatures and must reach NHRMC lab within 8 hours of collection.

Bronchial Washings - please refer to Sputum

Bronchoalveolar Lavage (BAL)

Specimens are collected into a sterile, screw-cap container. Specimen containers must be labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, location, and the date and time the specimen was collected. Specimens transported at room temperature must reach NHRMC lab within 2 hours of collection. Alternatively, specimens are transported at refrigeration temperatures and must reach NHRMC lab within 8 hours of collection.

Catheter Tips (Intravascular)

Catheter tips are collected into a sterile, screw-cap container. Specimen containers must be labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, location, and the date and time the specimen was collected. Specimens transported at room temperature must reach NHRMC lab within 2 hours of collection. Alternatively, specimens are transported at refrigeration temperatures and must reach NHRMC lab within 8 hours of collection.

Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF)

Cerebrospinal fluid is collected into sterile, screw-cap tubes or containers. A minimum of 2 mL is required. Specimen containers must be labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, location, and the date and time the specimen was collected. Specimens are transported at room temperature and must reach NHRMC lab within 4 hours of collection.

Cervix (please refer to Endocervix)

Ear (External Canal)

Specimens are collected using the Culturette system. Following collection, the moisture ampule must be crushed. All specimens must be properly labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, location and the time and date the specimen was collected. Specimens are transported at room temperature and must reach NHRMC lab within 8 hours of collection.

Endocervix (culture for Neisseria gonorrhoeae)

Specimens are collected using the Culturette system. Following collection, the moisture ampule must be crushed. All specimens must be properly labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, location and the time and date the specimen was collected. Specimens are transported at room temperature and must reach NHRMC lab within 8 hours of collection.

Endocervix (LCR for Chlamydia trachomatis)

Specimens are collected using the LCx STD Swab Specimen Collection and transportation Kit. Do not use the large-tipped cleaning swab for specimen collection. Swab specimens that are moderately bloody or grossly mucoid must not be tested as these levels of blood and mucus may interfere with the assay. Each specimen tube must be properly labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, location and the time and date the specimen was collected. Specimens are transported at either room temperature or refrigeration temperature and must reach NHRMC lab within 8 hours of collection.

Endocervix (LCR for Neisseria gonorrhoeae) - please refer to Endocervix - LCR for Chlamydia trachomatis)

Eye - please refer to Ear (External)

Feces (Stool)

Specimes are collected into a clean, leak-proof container (tight fitting lid or screw - cap). All specimens must be properly labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, location and the time and date the specimen was collected. Specimens are transported at refrigeration temperature and must reach NHRMC lab within 8 hours of collection.

Specimes may also be submitted in Para Pak® enteric transport media.

Feces (Toxin Assay for Clostridium difficile)

Specimes are collected into a clean, leak-proof container (tight fitting lid or screw - cap). All specimens must be properly labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, location and the time and date the specimen was collected. Specimens are transported at refrigeration temperature and must reach NHRMC lab within 8 hours of collection.  This test is molecular and only one test per patient is needed since it is highly specific and highly sensitive.  Testing will only be performed on samples that meet the criteria for toxigenic C. difficile infection (diarrheal or unformed stools only).

Intravascular Catheter Tips - please refer to Catheter Tips (Intravascular)

Nose (Nasal)

Specimens are collected using the Culturette system. Following collection, the moisture ampule must be crushed. All specimens must be properly labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, location and the time and date the specimen was collected. Specimens are transported at room temperature and must reach NHRMC lab within 8 hours of collection.

Rectal Swab

Specimens are collected using the Culturette system. Following collection, the moisture ampule must be crushed. All specimens must be properly labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, location and the time and date the specimen was collected. Specimens are transported at refrigeration temperature and must reach NHRMC lab within 8 hours of collection.

Sputum

Specimens are collected in a sterile, screw-cap container. A minimum of 2 mL must be collected. Recommended volume is between 5 and 10 ml. All specimens must be properly labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, location and the time and date the specimen was collected. Specimens transported at room temperature must reach NHRMC lab within 2 hours of collection. Alternatively, specimens transported at refrigeration temperature must reach NHRMC lab within 8 hours of collection.

Stool - please refer to Feces (Stool)

Throat (Group A Strep antigen detection)

Throat swabs are collected using the Culturette system. Following collection, the moisture ampule must be crushed. All specimens must be properly labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, location and the time and date the specimen was collected. Specimens are transported at room temperature and must reach NHRMC lab within 8 hours of collection.

Throat (Group A Strep culture) - please refer to Throat (Group A Strep antigen detection)

Tracheal Aspirate - please refer to Sputum Tracheal Swab

Specimens are collected using the Culturette system. Following collection, the moisture ampule must be crushed. All specimens must be properly labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, location and the time and date the specimen was collected. Specimens transported at room temperature must reach NHRMC lab within 2 hours of collection. Alternatively, specimens transported at refrigeration temperature must reach NHRMC lab within 8 hours of collection.

Urethra (culture for Neisseria gonorrhoeae)

Specimens are collected using the Culturette system. Following collection, the moisture ampule must be crushed. All specimens must be properly labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, location and the time and date the specimen was collected. Specimens are transported at room temperature and must reach NHRMC lab within 8 hours of collection.

Urethra (LCR for Chlamydia trachomatis)

Specimens are collected using the LCx STD Swab Specimen Collection and transportation Kit. Do not use the large-tipped cleaning swab for specimen collection. Swab specimens that are moderately bloody or grossly mucoid must not be tested as these levels of blood and mucus may interfere with the assay. Each specimen tube must be properly labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, location and the time and date the specimen was collected. Specimens are transported at either room temperature or refrigeration temperature and must reach NHRMC lab within 8 hours of collection.

Urethra (LCR for Neisseria gonorrhoeae) - please refer to Urethra (LCR for Chlamydia trachomatis)

Urine

Specimens are collected in a sterile, screw-cap container.  A minimum of 10 mL is required. Each specimen tube must be properly labeled with the patient's name, medical record number, location and the time and date the specimen was collected. For additional formation, please see: Collection, Transportation and Handling of Urine Specimens.

Unpreserved specimens are transported at room temperature and must reach the laboratory within 2 hours of collection.

Chemically preserved specimens are transported at room temperature and must reach the laboratory within 24 hours of collection.

Specimens may be preserved refrigerated and must reach the laboratory within 24 hours of collection.