The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Taking and Sending Samples

Specimen Containers

For karyotype analysis we require 3mls of blood in a lithium heparin tube (green or orange lid).

For SNP array testing we require 3mls of blood in an EDTA tube (purple or pink lid).

Additional blood will be required if chromosome breakage studies are required (approx 2-3ml), dependent on the number and test types.

All specimen containers must be clearly labelled, by hand and in CAPITAL LETTERS with the following information:

  • Forename
  • Surname
  • Date of Birth
  • Hospital/NHS Number
  • Ward/Location
  • Date of collection

Request Forms

Request forms must be filled in with clear and legible writing (use printed labels whenever possible on request forms) stating the following information:

  • Forename and Surname
  • Hospital/NHS Number
  • Date of Birth
  • Sex (NK if in doubt)
  • Address (including postcode)
  • Hospital/GP Surgery
  • Ward/Location
  • Consultant/GP
  • Sample Type
  • Date of sample
  • Relevant clinical details
  • Investigations required
  • Infection status (where required)
  • Doctor or deputy signature

Request cards that are incomplete can lead to delays in processing, or the wrong test being carried out.

Request cards can be obtained from the website here.

It is important that known high risk of infection specimens are appropriately labelled. This will allow the laboratory to make a suitable risk assessment, and apply relevant local precautions in respect of trainee and junior staff, pregnant staff, and those who have recently given birth, so as to ensure staff health safety and welfare.

In order to comply with existing Health & Safety Advisory Committee guidelines and legislative requirements, the use of ‘danger of infection’ labels for specimens known or suspected to carry a blood borne virus is strongly recommended.


It is the responsibility of the requesting Doctor to ensure that specimens and request forms are correctly labelled.

Incorrectly or unlabelled specimens may not be processed by the Laboratory and will be considered as a RISK INCIDENT. Details will be forwarded to the Health and Safety Co-ordinator to identify problem areas.

Sample Transportation

It is the responsibility of the person transporting the specimen to ensure that it arrives promptly and undamaged at its destination.

Samples should be sent in sealed plastic bags, with the request card protected from the sample.

The plastic bags should be placed in taped boxes containing appropriate padding and packing.

When sending samples by post a secure container should be used to conform to current postal regulations, i.e. P650 and UN3373 applicable. For more information please see here.

Please see the laboratory contact page for address and contact details.

Sample Acceptance and Consent

 It is assumed that when a sample is sent to the laboratory, the clinician responsible for the care of the patient has obtained appropriate and valid consent for testing and storage so that the laboratory is not required to confirm and document such consent.

For more information on consent please see the guidelines from the Joint Committee on Medical Genetics.

Acceptance of a sample and referral card from the referring clinician by the testing laboratory should be considered as an entry into an agreement between both parties.

It is the responsibility of the person (doctor, nurse or phlebotomist) taking the sample from the patient to ensure that the specimen container is correctly identified. Those sent in an incorrect container may not be accepted.

Incorrectly/unlabelled samples/referral cards may not be accepted by the laboratory.

The laboratory responsibility begins when the specimen arrives at YNEGLH Central Lab reception. The Leeds lab can only act upon the information provided and upon the accuracy of that information.

It is the responsibility of the referring clinician to clearly state on the referral card the test required. The referring clinician should also include any other information that may affect the interpretation of the result such as clinical features and family history.

The laboratory will inform the referring clinician as soon as practical if the sample is unsuitable for testing, the identifiers provided are insufficient or the test requested is unclear. It is the responsibility of the laboratory to report the result within the turnaround times indicated. Any factors leading to delay or quality of testing or should be communicated to the referring clinician as soon as practical.

The final decision on whether to accept a specimen will lie with the Head of the Laboratory.