Specimen Handling

To ensure quality testing, it is important to adhere to the following guidelines when preparing a specimen for testing. Once a specimen is collected properly, it must be processed, stored and transported correctly. 

General Guidelines 

Generally, the specimen requirements are written in a format that specifies the requested volume, storage temperature, and any specialty handling notes. The requested volume is an amount sufficient to allow at least two performances of the test either singly or in duplicate. The minimum volume allows one single analysis including instrument dead volume. Storage temperature is specified as room temperature (15° - 30°C), refrigerated (2° - 10°C) or frozen (-20° or colder). When temperature is not indicated, the sample may be stored and shipped in the most convenient manner for the client.

For panels or multiple assay requests, the sample should be submitted with the physician’s priority of determination on the test request form. Tests will be performed in the order of that priority. If the volume is insufficient to run all the tests required, our Client Services department will contact the physician.

Serum, Plasma or Whole Blood Collection

Draw blood in the appropriate color-coded Vacutainer tube. For serum or plasma, draw approximately 2 ½ times the requested volume. For serum, allow the blood to clot sixty minutes and separate by centrifugation. For plasma and whole blood, completely fill the Vacutainer whenever possible to eliminate dilution from the anticoagulant or preservative and immediately mix the blood by gently and thoroughly inverting the tube five to ten times. Separate plasma by centrifugation. Transfer the serum, plasma or whole blood to a plastic transport tube. To prevent injury and exposure to potentially infectious material, do not ship frozen serum, plasma, or whole blood received in glass tubes or SST (glass or plastic).

Most blood specimens can be obtained using routine phlebotomy techniques; however, there are some exceptions. The use of a tourniquet can cause stress and is not recommended in some cases. The patient’s posture either sitting, standing or lying down, or the time of day relative to the patient’s sleep cycle can be important factors in some tests. Whenever specific issues of this nature are important, they will be listed as part of the specimen requirements or patient preparation for the individual tests.

Stool Specimen Collection

Directions for Patients on How to Collect the Specimen(s):

Avoiding contact with urine, pass stool directly into the stool cup OR pass stool into a stool hat. You may need to divide the specimen into two stool cups using the tongue depressor provided or the other handy implement such as a plastic spoon. You may also be provided with stool transport containers, depending on the test requested.

Label the stool cups with your full name, date and time of collection.

Deliver specimens to the lab AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Specimen Requirements:

  • Stool Culture – Leave the container at room temperature and submit within two hours of collection. Specimen must be delivered to the lab in the provided stool transport container.
  • Ova & Parasites – Specimen must be submitted at room temperature within one hour of collection. Minimum volume is one tablespoon or a walnut sized portion.
  • Clostridium Difficile (C. diff) – Refrigerate specimen and submit within 24 hours. Loose, watery or soft stools only. Soft stools assume the shape of the container. Hard or formed stools are unacceptable for this test.
  • Giardia/Cryptosporidium – Refrigerate specimen and submit within 24 hours.
  • H. pylori Antigen -- Refrigerate specimen and submit within 24 hours.
  • Rotavirus/Rotazyme -- Refrigerate specimen and submit within 24 hours.
  • WBC Stool -- Refrigerate specimen and submit within 24 hours.
For your safety, leaking specimens, unlabeled specimens or mislabeled specimens will be rejected.

Urine Collections

Directions for Patients on How to Collect the Specimen(s):

Specimen collection may be done at the Conway Regional Medical Center or the Imaging Center.
The first morning specimen is preferred for some urine testing. You doctor will instruct you in this requirement and you may bring the sample in for testing. Specimen must be fresh and delivered within one hour of collection. Refrigerate the sample if you are unable to deliver it within one hour. These specimens must be delivered within 12 hours.

Males: Void the first part of the stream into the toilet, and then collect the remainder of the stream into the provided container.
Females: Spread labia while urinating.
Collection Container: Provided by the Medical Center or Imaging Center.

24-Hour Urine Collections

Directions for Patients on How to Collect the Specimen(s): Click Here to download instructions.

Rhogam Injection

Patients do not need an appointment, but must register in the East Lobby between the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Before the patient receives his or her injection the staff will do a blood test. It will take between 20 minutes and two hours to get the results. The patient can wait on the test and then receive the injection (if needed). If the patient is unable to wait for results, he/she can return within three days if he/she needs an injection. If the patient chooses to return later, he/she will not need to register in the East Lobby. The patient should go directly to the Lab, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Glucose Screening

Patients do not need an appointment for this test. Patients may come to the Laboratory at any time. The Laboratory is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The patient will be at the hospital for 1 to 1½ hours for this test.

Glucose Tolerance Test


  • The patient should increase his/her carbohydrate intake (bread, pasta, etc.) for three days prior to testing.
  • The patient should not eat or drink anything but water for 14 hours prior to testing.
  • The patient may be in the hospital for up to 4 hours.

Semen Analysis

To get the most accurate results possible, patients should be asked to please follow these instructions when collecting the specimen. This is very important. Click here to download questionaire.