Specimen Collection

eSwab Minitip Flocked Collection Kit

Starting December 22, 2014, RML will be implementing the use of the new collection swabs and limiting urine containers to one collection cup, in addition to monovettes and vacutainers. When possible, routine bacterial, fungal and mycobacterial cultures should be collected using Copan eSwabs. Sterile containers will remain acceptable for respiratory, tissue and body fluid specimens. E-swabs are flocked swabs in liquid Amies transport media designed for collection of specimens containing aerobes, anaerobes and fastidious bacteria. These swabs are able to pick up more material from the specimen source resulting in improved microbial recovery.

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Regional Medical Laboratory utilizes the latest and most appropriate technology to analyze laboratory data to provide the best clinical information for you and for your patient; however, none of this information would be available without the proper collection and processing of patient specimens. This section supplies the needed supplemental information in conjunction with our extensive test directory so that collection and processing can lend the first step to providing our clients and patients with the best clinical information available.

Specimen Labeling & Transporting

All specimens (blood, body fluids, cultures, cytology and surgical) must have a first and last name on the specimen container, accompanied by a secondary identifier. Examples of  acceptable identifiers include but are not limited to: date of birth, medical record number, social security number, requisition number, accession number, or unique random number. A location (e.g., hospital room number) is not an acceptable identifier. The name or identifiers on the specimen(s) must match exactly the name or identifiers on the requisition. Test results may be delayed if labeling discrepancies occur. All specimens must be accompanied with a completed RML requisition and transported at the required temperature in bio-hazard zip-lock bags or other appropriate transport containers. (09/23/2010)

Minimum Volumes

In circumstances where preferred volumes listed in the test directory section cannot be obtained, please contact the laboratory at (800) 722-8077 or (918) 744-2500 for the minimum acceptable volume.

Blood Collection

Draw blood into the appropriate collection container as indicated in the test directory section for each specific test. Immediately after drawing the blood in tubes with additives or anticoagulants, mix gently by inverting the tube(s) at least 10 times. For Tulsa patients with a collection port, your blood collection should be coordinated with SJMC Hematology Services. Contact them at (918) 744-3131 x 42070.

Serum or Plasma

Many people may not know the difference between Serum specimens and Plasma specimens. They may look similar but are very different. Below is a handy printout that you can use to post near your workstation to keep your memory fresh when working with these tubes.

Serum/Plasma information sheet

Serum is a clear yellowish fluid that remains from blood plasma after clotting factors (fibrinogen, prothrombin ect.) that have been used in the formation of a clot. The cells are usually glued together by the clot formation. In serum separator tubes the serum stays above the gel while the cells are forced below the gel after centrifugation.
Plasma is a clear yellowish fluid that still contains all of the clotting factors and have not been solidified into clot. The cells are also not glued together and can be easily re-suspended by gently rocking the plasma tube from side to side. In plasma separator tubes the plasma stays above the gel while the cells are force below the gel after centrifugation.

Whole Blood or Plasma

Certain tests require whole blood, e.g. CBC and ESR; or plasma, e.g. PTH. In these cases, blood is drawn into a tube containing a specific anticoagulant. Inverting the tube 10 times gently mixes the blood and anticoagulant. Whole Blood is typically left in the original tube. Refer to the specimen requirement section for specific test requirements. Plasma is obtained by centrifuging the tube approximately 10 minutes. Certain test(s) require the plasma to be carefully separated from the red blood cells, making sure the specimen does not contain red blood cells. The use of a transfer pipette is the preferred method, versus tilting the original tube and pouring the plasma into an aliquot tube. The presence of cells may give spurious results.

Please note the type of plasma on the pour-off tube:

“P-Hep” = Heparinized Plasma
“P-EDTA” = EDTA Plasma


Many specimens require centrifugation and removal of the serum or plasma from the cells or other special handling. These procedures assure specimen integrity in the event that transport to the laboratory is delayed more than two hours. If you require a centrifuge or have questions concerning specimen processing or transport, please contact your nearest RML Service Center or call our main laboratory at (918)744-2500, option 3, or (800)722-8077.