RE: Return of Specimen to Patient

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From:"Pam Marcum" <>
To:"a i d a n s c h u r r" <>, "O'Brien, Sue" <>, <>
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Thank you for the information and assistance you are giving the natives of
your country.  It is too bad not all countries recognize the importance of
the beliefs of the people.  Pam Marcum

-----Original Message-----
From: a i d a n s c h u r r []
Sent: Monday, May 01, 2000 10:31 PM
To: O'Brien, Sue;
Subject: Re: Return of Specimen to Patient


I have just finished putting together an extensive protocol regarding
this.  Here in New Zealand we pay special attention to the needs of
Maori (our indigenous people) and Pacific Islanders.  Their culture
holds the body as "tapu" (sacred), and thus we often have requests
to return uteri, placentae, foetuses, POC's, and other specimens
removed at surgery.  They generally bury these under the guidance
of their Kaumatua (elders or priests), so that when they die, their
body is made whole again.  From our point of view, when the
request is recieved (usu. written on the requisition form), we send
out a standard personalised letter explaining our testing process,
and when they can collect their tissue.  We also send an 'official'
chain of custody form, which covers the legal aspects.  We wash
the tissue to remove the formalin, dry it with paper towels, and
package with plenty of absorbent cotton wool in specially bought in
wooden boxes (the entire package is biodegradable).  The box is
tacked shut, placed in a plastic bag, and handed over to the
patient, who has to present appropriate ID.  We explain the
dangers of formaldehyde, and 'strongly discourage' them from
opening the package.  Disposable gloves are offered is this is
unavoidable.  It seems a long drawn out process, and could
become tedious if every second person wanted his or her tonsils
back, but it works well for us, and well covers some very particular
cultural needs.  I can forward you a copy of my protocol if you wish.

Aidan, New Zealand

> Hi! I was wondering what others do when they receive a request for a
> specimen to be returned. I realize that there are many levels to this
> question. (e.g. are we talking about a gallstone - which we clean,
> and document return; or a placenta - which we release to a funeral home
> selected by the patient). I would appreciate input concerning how any
> requests you have received were handled, as well as where I may go to find
> any guidelines on this issue. Thanks for all your help!
> Sue O'Brien
> Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital
> e-mail: <>
> fax: 609-463-2747

a i d a n   c   s c h u r r
     mlso,  histology department
      hutt valley health
       lower hutt, new zealand

     ph.  ++64 4 5709173
     fax  ++64 4 5709214

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