Re: Return of Specimen to Patient

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From:"a i d a n s c h u r r" <>
To:"O'Brien, Sue" <>,
Content-Type:text/plain; charset=US-ASCII


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, disinfect
> 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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