Re: delivery of specimens

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From:Tim Morken <> (by way of histonet)
To:histonet <>
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You are not alone, and you won't solve this without heavy-duty backup
from your lab director. We had the same problem at a hospital I worked
at in California and the only way we solved it was to refuse to accept
such specimens. They were sent back to the clinic or surgery with a note
that they would be refused until they came packaged correctly and
without damage. This affects three groups: 1) the nurses that sent it,
2) the couriers and 3) the clinicians. Neither will want to be blamed
for a return and they will compete to make sure they are not blamed. The
clinician will be furious if he finds out a specimen he sent was not
handled properly. This is just what you want. However, you need the
total backing of you lab director to pull it off because only the
director can force the issue and make it stick.

The hardest part of instituting this policy was to convince the lab
director to go along with it. The primary concern, and rightly so, was
that a specimen would get lost somewhere. We started it as a trial and
publicised it well in advance. Things improved right away but it took
several returns to make them understand we were serious. After only a
few months our returns were nearly zero and we were happy campers.

Tim Morken, B.S., EMT(MSA), HTL(ASCP)
Infectious Disease Pathology
Centers for Disease Control
1600 Clifton Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30333


FAX:  (404)639-3043

----Original Message Follows----
Date: Thu, 03 Dec 1998 10:49:50 -0800 (PST)
From: Cel Rutledge <>
Subject: delivery of specimens
To: Histonet <>

We have been having a problem with the condition of surgical specimens
that are delvered to pathology.  We have a central messenger center that
collects specimens from the clinics and surgery on a regular time
schedule.  They pick up specimens and then deliver them to pathology.
immediate problem is the careless with which they are handled.  They
"toss" them into a plastic or paper bag and then empty them on the
receiving desk.  To ones complete amazement-they leak. The clinics,
surgery and messenger supervisors have been contacted, warned,
verbally abused, begged and pleaded with, but still no end in sight to

We have explained the problem with contamination, having to redo the
paperwork, and the time consuming effort involved in  handling this
problem, but nothing.  It is a double headed problem, but I feel that if
the messengers would not turn them every which way then the containers
that were not sealed correctly would not leak.

The clinics are furnished bags with special pockets for paperwork on the
outside of the bag while the specimen goes inside, unfortunately the put
the paper inside with the leaky specimen.

I would like some suggestions as to how other hospitals receive their
specimens.  Is this common?  Or, are we just lucky?

Cel Rutledge
San Francisco General Hospital

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