Proper specimen labeling is required to protect patients from adverse consequences of errors due to improper labeling and to meet laboratory accreditation requirements. Always label specimens while still in the presence of the patient/at the bedside.

The following policy for unacceptably labeled specimens will be enforced:

  1. A specimen will be considered unacceptably labeled if the container holding the specimen (test tube, urine container, specimen jar, swab, etc.) does not have the patient’s last and first name and medical record number or birth date.
  2. Note: The specimen container itself must be properly labeled. If a specimen is placed in a plastic bag, it is not adequate to place a label on the bag rather than on the tube. Whenever the specimen itself is not labeled, the label will be considered unacceptable.
  3. The specimen will be considered unacceptably labeled if the specimen arrives in the laboratory where the name on the specimen differs from the name on the requisition or the requisition has more than one name.
  4. If the unacceptably labeled specimen is one that can be reobtained by venipuncture or recollection (e.g. urine sample) the unit will be notified that a new specimen is required.
  5. If the unacceptably labeled specimen is one that cannot be re-obtained (CSF, body fluids such as peritoneal or synovial fluid, bone marrow, stones, operative specimens, catheter tips, special procedural collections [e.g. bronchoalveolar lavages], or non-line arterial blood gases), the person who originally collected the specimen must acknowledge the identity of the specimen in writing.
  6. All specimens for the Blood Bank require a new specimen on any unacceptably labeled specimen. There are no exceptions. Click here to view UCH “Administration of Blood Components” policy.
  7. Proper placement of barcoded labels is essential for all 5 and 7 mL blood specimen tubes. Labels must be straight, wrinkle-free, and oriented as follows:

specimen labeling
Refer to “Get It Straight” flyer.