Criteria for the Acceptance of Specimens

Specialist information is required for Blood Bank, Cytology and Histology requests. See the individual laboratory section for their requirements.

Prior to venepuncture please ensure that all sample tubes have been stored to the manufacturers reccomendations and have not exceeded the expiry date shown on the label.

Please do not apply labels which overhang the sample or that have any form of barcode.

The table below indicates the mandatory/ essential data required on samples and request forms and outlines the desirable information which ideally should be included.

Mandatory Essential Desirable
Specimens Patients full name or proper coded identifierHospital PID, NHS number or date of birth (or requesting laboratory number when samples referred by another laboratory)  For samples such as swabs or fluids, inclusion of information on the site of the sample is required Other information listed under mandatory if not used as a mandatory optionDate and time takenDestination for reportSample type
Mandatory Essential Desirable
Request form Patients full name or proper coded identifier as given on the specimenHospital PID, NHS number or date of birth as given on the specimen or requesting laboratory number when samples referred by another laboratory) Patients sex, Destination for the report, Name of requesting Consultant or GP,Date and time sample collected, signature of person collecting sample, Tests required Other information listed under mandatory if not used as a mandatory option.Clinical information,Patients address

Samples will not be accepted for processing if:

  1. The samples are unlabelled or incorrectly matched with the request form.
  2. The samples are received in a hazardous condition, i.e. leaked in to the bag
  3. Incorrect storage and/or transport of samples is obvious, e.g. incubated not refrigerated.

In order for specimens to be processed they must be labelled with a minimum of the following:

  1. Either the patient’s full name or a proper coded identifier
  2. The Hospital PID, NHS number or date of birth.

The request form must also contain both identifiers as used on the specimens.

For unlabelled urgent samples we will contact the requestor/ ward immediately.

Users are advised not to apply labels which overhang the sample or that have any form of barcode as this may cause delays in sample processing. Hospital PID is preferable for in or out patient specimens, NHS number is preferable for specimens from general practices.

Under no circumstances can a specimen be relabelled once it has been received in Laboratory Medicine. If a specimen has been rejected because it has not been deemed safe to process due to inadequate labelling then another specimen must be obtained for tests to be carried out.

In exceptional circumstances a decision to process insufficiently labelled specimens can be made by the duty biochemist, duty medical microbiologist/ virologist or a senior BMS for Haematology. When specimens which fail to comply with the mandatory criteria are processed responsibility for the results and for any action taken as a result of the report lies with the requesting practitioner.


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The laboratories at Heartlands Hospital, Good Hope Hospital and Solihull Hospital form part of the services provided by University Hospitals Birmingham and are UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) accredited to the ISO 15189:2012 standard. For a list of accredited tests and other information please visit the UKAS website using the following link:

  • Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull Hospital pathology laboratories are a UKAS accredited medical laboratory No.8217
  • United Kingdom Health Security Agency laboratory is a UKAS accredited medical laboratory No.8213

Tests not appearing on the UKAS Schedule of Accreditation currently remain outside of our scope of accreditation. However, these tests have been validated to the same high standard as accredited tests and are performed by the same trained and competent staff.

For further test information, please visit the test database:

Protection of personal information - Laboratory Medicine comply with the Trust Data Protection policy and have procedures in place to allow the Directorate and its employees to comply with the Data Protection act  1998 and associated best practice and guidance.

For further information contact Louise Fallon, Quality Manager, 0121 424 1235