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Biohazardous Materials

Biohazardous Materials Handling Guidelines

Because the potential for infectivity of any patient's blood, body fluids and tissue cannot be known, safety precautions must be followed for all patients and for all specimens. Standard (Universal) precautions should be observed when collecting blood specimens. Specimens from any patient could be infected with the Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or Hepatitis virus. Proper blood collection techniques should be followed to minimize risk to clinic or laboratory staff. Gloves, masks, eye/face shields or barrier gowns should be worn when working with laboratory specimens.

Specimens should be capped tightly and placed in a secondary plastic bag for storage and transport. The requisition should not be placed inside the bag with the specimen. To avoid possible contamination, Legacy Laboratory Services provides double-pouched bags for this purpose.

All specimens should be properly sealed before being transported. Leaking containers pose a health hazard.

Safety regulations specify that only specimens in proper containers be permitted to be transported to the testing laboratory. Specimens in syringes, with the needles attached, are not allowed by law to be transported in standard specimen bags. Legacy Laboratory Services will not accept clinical specimens contained in syringes with a needle attached.

The following is a brief list of procedures recommended by the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI).

  • Use barrier protection (i.e., gloves, lab coat) when collecting or handling any biological specimen. Any skin lesion should be completely covered.
  • Change gloves between patients when collecting specimens.
  • Avoid situations where splashing of the sample is possible or wear complete protection (i.e., gloves, goggles, mask).
  • Any sharp object used in the collection or handling of a specimen (i.e., needle, lancet, pipette) should be disposed of in a solid, puncture-resistant container.
  • Do not remove, recap, cut or bend needles or manipulate in any way by hand.
  • For specimen collection for Potential Agents of Bioterrorism, refer to Potential Agents of Bioterrorism Specimen Collection.