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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Medical Courier Safety. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Specimens That May be Transported, continued

Other common specimens types transported by couriers may include:
Body fluids including urine and sputum have containers that may be plastic cups with screw tops or plastic conical tubes with a screw top. Occasionally, a body fluid (such as pleural or paracentesis fluid) will be collected in a 200 mL glass vacuum bottle due to the large specimen volume. These vacuum bottles are glass (rather than plastic) in order to maintain the specimen quality.
Cytology specimens such as cervical PAP smears are on glass slides which are placed into a rigid wall cardboard slide carrier.
Histology specimens include tissues, placentas, and other body parts, as well as glass slides for pathology diagnosis. These specimens may be transported in formalin which is a hazardous chemical and must be handled carefully, as it is a potential carcinogen, meaning it has the potential to cause cancer in humans.
Immunohematology specimens are sometimes called transfusion medicine or blood bank specimens. These may be specimens collected in 10 mL pink-top plastic tubes or are bags of blood (500 mL) or blood products (250 mL or less) in a heavy weight plastic bags.
Microbiology specimens include blood cultures, sputum, swabs, and plastic cups for feces or stool collection kits. Blood culture bottles are manufactured in both plastic and in double thick glass. Glass bottles can break upon impact if dropped or handled carelessly.
Urine specimens are usually collected in cups or tubes that are plastic. Some cups have a stainless-steel needle in the screw top cap. It is covered with a paper shield before use. This needle is a hazardous sharp and should be handled with caution.
Care must be taken to transport these specimens according to your organization’s protocol, as well as any federal, state, or local requirements. This information will be provided by your supervisor.