The following precautions should be observed when handling and storing urine reagent strips:
- Store strips according to the manufacturer's recommendation.
- DO NOT expose strips to moisture, volatile fumes, or direct sunlight. Remove only enough strips for immediate use and immediately recap the bottle.
- Avoid contamination of test strips. Do not touch the test areas with fingers and do not lay test strips directly on the workbench.
- DO NOT use discolored strips. Compare the color of the unused strip to the negative area on the color chart provided by the company. The color should be similar.
- Check the expiration date. Re-label the container with a revised expiration date if the manufacturer states a shortened usage period once the container has been opened.
- Although the procedure is simple to perform, accurate results depend on careful adherence to manufacturer's directions and adequate quality control.
- Normal and abnormal controls should be tested whenever a new lot of strips is opened, and at the frequency defined by the laboratory's procedure.
- If quality control results do not correspond to the published control values, the problem must be resolved before patient samples are tested.
- Intensely colored urine may make it difficult to correctly interpret color reactions on the dipstick, as illustrated below. The affected tests should not be reported from the dipstick. It would be necessary to use an alternative method of testing if available.