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Samples and Request Forms

General Information

The use of electronic requesting is encouraged wherever possible.


All specimens should be received correctly labelled, in a sealed bag or other approved receptacle with barcode for electronic requests where appropriate or a fully and correctly completed request form for all other requests.


N.B. Blood Transfusion samples and requests are governed by National Legislation and Guidelines where no discretion is allowed as to what is acceptable on samples and request forms. Details of these requirements may be found under the heading ‘Blood Transfusion’.


The laboratories within Berkshire & Surrey Pathology Services (BSPS) cannot accept responsibility for unlabelled samples.


Minimum patient identification acceptance criteria



The laboratories within BSPS cannot accept responsibility for unlabelled samples.


With the exception of samples for Blood Transfusion and previously agreed specific sample types, the minimum data required for samples, to be accepted by the laboratories of Berkshire & Surrey Pathology Services (BSPS) is:


a) Patient’s first name

b) Patient’s surname

c) DOB

d) NHS number and/or Hospital number


N.B. Some samples are identified by a code, for example, samples from the GUM Clinic, clinical trials or chain of custody samples. In these instances the unique identifier will replace the need for patient’s first name and surname.  The date of birth should still be used.  The detail recorded on different types of specimen may be restricted by the nature of the container and its label or less easily labelled specimens.  Please refer to the departmental sections or contact the laboratory for more information.

Barcodes on samples do not replace full sample labelling but if used must be identical to the barcodes on the request form.  With electronic requesting the barcoding will be integrated at the site of sampling.


Request Forms

The information required on request form is as described above for samples. Request forms should also include as a minimum requirement:

·         A location/source

·         A requestor

·         Required tests

·         Relevant clinical details. 


Requirements are summarised in the table below. Read full explanation of requirements above.





4 points of ID from following list: (Points 1, 2,3 and 4 usually accepted)

1. NHS number*

2. Patients first name

3. Patients surname

4. Date of birth

5. Hospital number (ONLY if patients name given)


6. Unique coded identifier**


Request Form

4 points of ID as detailed above.


1. Gender

2. Patient’s location and

destination for report

3. Patient’s consultant, GP or name of requesting


4. Investigation(s) required

5. Type of primary sample, and where relevant, the anatomic site of origin

6. Date and time sample


7. Relevant clinical details

8. Date and time sample receipt

1. Clinical information -

including relevant

medication (often essential)***

2. Patient’s address -

including postcode

3. Practitioner’s contact

number (bleep or




*Use of the NHS number on paper and electronic patient records is now a mandatory requirement included within the NHS Operating Framework 2008/9. Patient data should be used to identify the sample up to the point where a NHS Number is allocated whereupon this becomes the primary identifier.


** The unique identifier will replace the need for Patients first name and surname. Date of birth should still be used unless local approved procedures are described in the departmental sections below.


***N.B. For some specimen types the desirable requirements are essential and some specific additional information may be required.  Where required this is detailed in departmental sections.


Date and time collected is usually essential for biochemistry samples

Clinical details are essential for Microbiology. Samples received without relevant clinical details may be rejected.