Infectious Hazards of Clinical Specimens
IMPORTANT REMINDER TO ALL HEALTH CARE WORKERS
INVOLVED IN THE COLLECTION, PACKING, STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF
All specimens should be regarded as being potentially infective. You have a personal and
statutory duty of care to protect the Health and Safety both of yourself and of others who
deal directly or indirectly with patient specimens and/or the associated clinical waste.
Failure to comply with the Trust infection prevention policies is notifiable under the Trust's
Incident Reporting Scheme, whether or not anaccident, injury or infection has resulted.
Disciplinary action may ensue, as may claims for compensation: the Trust does not indemnify it's
staff in cases where there has been a clear breach of it's own policy.
The following Infection Prevention Policy applies to any clinical material taken from a
patient and sent to a diagnostic or a research laboratory:
It is essential that ALL the RELEVANT
CLINICAL DETAILS are supplied on the Request Form:
- The specimen must be placed in a suitable container and the lid or cap secured to prevent leakage.
- The container must be sealed in a leakproof bag which will contain any spillage accidentally occuring in transit.
- Laboratory staff have a discretionary right to discard any sample that is received in a state
which renders it hazardous for them to handle. Where there is a perceived to be a lack of duty of care, formal notification may
be made to the Trust's Risk Manager.
- Clinical samples must not be sent to outside agencies other than via the Trust's own
transport systems; if to be posted, the sender is directly responsible for complying with
current postal regulations.
The Trust's diagnostic laboratories now take 'universal' infection prevention precautions to avoid
potential exposure to blood borne viruses and other infectious agents
that may be present in the clinical material. It is no longer necessary to identify samples as
'High Risk' if they have been taken from patients known or suspected of carrying such pathogens.
- where this might influence the choice of diagnostic test. This applies particularly
if TB is suspected or needs to be excluded, but also when there is a history of foreign travel.
- where the patient is known or strongly suspected to be suffering from an infectious
illness which spreads via the airborne route.
If in doubt, please contact the on-call medical microbiologist.