Specimen Transport Temperatures

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Medical Courier Safety. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Specimen Transport Temperatures

You must become familiar with the two commonly used temperature scales and understand the differences between the Fahrenheit and Celsius or Centigrade scales and the symbols which will designate them in courier transportation policies, procedures, and written memos.
The letter “F” stands for Fahrenheit and is commonly used for thermometers throughout the United States for outdoor and indoor use (such as thermometers to measure a fever). The letter “C” stands for Celsius. Historically, this scale is called Centigrade, but the terms are used interchangeably. Celsius is more commonly used outside the United States (US) when referring to temperature, but it is frequently used when referring to laboratory temperatures in the US.
Sometimes the numerical temperature will be followed by a superscript circle. This is the symbol for the word “degree,” which is then followed either by the letter “F” if the temperature is Fahrenheit or the letter “C” if the temperature is Celsius/Centigrade. For example:
  • 86°F = 86 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 23°C = 23 degrees Celsius/Centigrade
Couriers must also be aware of transportation temperature requirements for the specimens they are handling and delivering. This includes ensuring that outer containers are properly labeled. For example, if specimens must be maintained frozen during transportation, the courier must ensure that the box containing the frozen specimens is labeled "Keep Frozen" or some other way that indicates this specimen requirement.