Upon labeling the specimens at the patient's bedside, the specimens should be placed in a biohazard bag, tube rack, or any other transport carrier required by the testing facility. Transport to the laboratory should be done as soon as possible after collection. It can be done in person by the healthcare professional collecting the specimen, via the pneumatic tube if the laboratory is connected to the collection center, or via specialized courier if the collection site is remote from the laboratory. Delays in testing could significantly change the values of the analytes to be measured, therefore prompt delivery to the laboratory is paramount.
Tubes should be transported with the stopper up in order to reduce the contact of blood with stopper and to reduce agitation of the blood. If the specimen is required to be centrifuged, CLSI recommends to separate the cells from plasma within two hours of collection.
It is also very important to follow special handling procedures needed for specific laboratory tests. These special procedures may include cooling, keeping the specimen at body temperature, and protecting the specimen from light. In the next pages, these procedures will be presented in more detail.