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Lab Manual for UCSF Clinical Laboratories

Lab Manual for SFGH

Internal Resources

Specimen Identification

All patient specimens submitted to the Clinical Laboratory must be received in an appropriate container, accompanied by a completely and correctly filled out laboratory requisition form. Complete and consistent labeling of patient specimens and requisitions is a requirement in order to comply with safety and legal regulations and standards, as well as to facilitate and maintain patient care.


    Specimen containers must be labeled in the presence of the patient. The following information must be affixed to each specimen container:

    1. Patient's first and last name.

    2. SFGH medical record number or other lab-approved unique patient number (e.g., CTYC-XXX).

    3. “Pre or Post, Peak or Trough” should be noted on the container, when applicable.


    Unlabeled or mismatched (name and/or medical record number on specimen does not match name and/or medical record number on requisition) specimens, including STAT specimens, will be rejected and discarded. This will be recorded in the computer. The laboratory will notify the physician or unit if the specimen is unlabeled or mismatched.

    Exception Specimens:

    An exception is made for irreplaceable or invasively/surgically collected specimens, upon completion of the form “SFGH Clinical Laboratory Confirmation of Specimen Identification.” Exception specimens include:

    • Tissues or biopsies

    • Sterile body fluids; i.e., CSF, pericardial, synovial, gastric, peritoneal, pleural

    • Blood cultures

    The Laboratory will contact the physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant (not a clerk, nurse or medical student) responsible for care of the patient at the time of the correction, who must come to the laboratory and confirm the identity of the specimen (and label it, if unlabeled). Testing will not be performed until the correction is made. The correction must be made within 24 hours or sooner, depending upon specimen stability. Note that most body fluids are stable for only 1 hour.


    The laboratory will notify the ordering provider or unit if the laboratory is unable to perform a test for any reason. Reasons for rejection may include, but are not limited to, clotted specimens, incorrect tube types, improper specimen identification, and lab accidents.

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