Guidelines for Specimen Collection & Handling

Guidelines for Specimen Collection & Handling

The quality of laboratory results depends greatly on the proper collection and handling of specimen. 


  1. Red cells or white cells haemolysis in blood specimen may cause clinical invalid result. Always apply proper phlebotomy technique. Avoid water, alcohol or other agents to come in contact with the sampling needle or blood specimen. Do not apply sudden force in blood sampling or transferring; avoid transfer blood from syringe to blood tube through needle. It is advisable to use needle with gauze size 22G or larger (21G) to avoid haemolysis.
  2. Avoid apply prolong tourniquet, prolonged venous stasis may cause increase in certain parameters.
  3. Effect of posture, medication, intravenous infusion and examination of the prostate may alter or interfere with certain assays.
  4. Blood specimen for electrolytes assay, especially potassium, blood for cytogenetics, leukocytes antigen, lymphocytic markers, cryoglobins and blood culture should NOT keep refrigerated. It should be delivered to lab as soon as possible.
  5. Most hormones and enzymes will decrease in activity through time or in warm temperature. It should be keep refrigerated if immediate delivery to lab is unavailable.
  6. An overnight (10 to 12 hour) fast is required for most fasting blood specimens.

Type of Vacuum Blood Collection Tubes (as supplied by our labs, specification may change)

Cap ColourCode & AdditivesVol.Note
Yellow Plain SST
(with Serum Separation Gel & Clot Activator)
5ml No need mixing, avoid shaking. Mainly for most routine biochemistry assays, hormones, tumour markers, serology assays, virology assays etc. Preferably using this tube rather the total plain tube, for speedy processing, unless specifically indicated.
Red Total Plain
(without Gel)
7ml No need mixing, avoid shaking.
Lavender EDTA
3ml Mix well. For most haematology assays, blood lead assay. If ESR, need min 1.5 ml.
Grey Fluoride
2ml Mix well. For glucose test. Min 1 ml, too little blood may cause blood haemolysis. Too much blood may reduce glycolitic inhibition.
Green Heparin
(Na/Li Heparin)
2ml Mix well
Light Blue Citrate
(Buffered Citrate 3.2%)
2ml Fill to the marked line/specified volume and mix well. Ensure citrate to blood ratio is 1:9. Not to draw first blood for coagulation tests, either use the first draw for other tube or discard the 1st tube.
Royal Blue w Red Label Trace Element Plain 7ml No need mixing. For trace element or heavy metal assays on serum or urine. 
Royal Blue w Blue Label Trace Element EDTA 7ml Mix well. For trace element or heavy metal assays on whole blood or red blood cells.

For vacuum blood collection system, the blood will fill to the stated volume automatically.



Sterile Universal Container:
For Urine, Stool/Faeces, Sputum, Body Fluid, Effusion, Aspirate, Seminal Fluid, Scrapping, Small Tissue and etc. Seminal fluid must keep in room temperature, avoid light and dispatch to laboratory within 1 hour of collection. Stool or Urine for detection of life parasites should keep in room temperature. Specimen for routine Urinalysis, Biochemistry assays should keep refrigerated if immediate delivery to lab is unavailable. Body fluids for culture should keep in room temperature, however for Urine culture should keep refrigerated to avoid overgrow of normal flora if immediate delivery to lab is unavailable.

Glass Slide:
For fixed smear. e.g. PAP smear, direct smears for bacteria, parasite and etc.

Swab, Plain:
For direct or fixed smear, e.g. Gram’s stain, AFB stain. For molecular PCR detection.

Swab, with Transport Medium or Viral Transport Medium:
For transport of microbiological specimens for culture & sensitivity tests from wound, pubs and etc. And also for wet mount preparation for the detection of Monillia & Trichomonas. Specimens keep in room temperature; do not refrigerate.

Blood Culture Bottle (Aerobic or Anaerobic):
For either Aerobic or Anaerobic bacterial culture & sensitivity tests. Specimens keep in room temperature; do not refrigerate.

24 hr Urine Container:
For collection of 24-hour urine. Preservative (normally HCL acid) has to be added for specific assay or keep refrigerated. Patient should be informed of any additive added in the container. Proper instruction should be understand by the patient. At 0-hr, the bladder is emptied completely; discard the urine. Collect all urine passed until the 24-hr. At 24-hr, the bladder is emptied completely by urinating into the collection.

Mid-Stream Urine (MSU):
Clean the genital area with water. Discard the first void urine and only collect clean voided mid-stream urine into container. This is important to obtain a clinical relevant result for Urinalysis and C&S. Please keep specimen in refrigerator if immediate delivery to laboratory is unavailable.

First Morning Urine (FMU) or First Void Urine (FVU):
First or second urine in the early morning or first void/stream urine is important for detection of certain urine’s parameters, as the concentration is higher in the early morning urine or in the first void/stream urine.

Specific collection tube or kit is required for certain test. E.g. liquid-based PAP test, Fibrin Degradation Product (FDP), Urea Breath Test, Hair Heavy Metal assays, Urine Metabolic/Amino Acids assays etc.


All the above specimen containers, needles, swabs, spatulas, brushes, slides, slide holders, fixatives (for cytology), request forms, specimen bags and service catalogue are supplied free of charge if use it to collect specimen for testing in our labs. Please order with us using the Supplies Request Form before they are required. May fax or hand to our dispatch personnel to deliver to our labs.

For details on specific specimen collection method, please contact our clinician service representatives (medical sales representatives) or laboratory managers.