Collecting and delivering samples

Your GP or hospital clinician may ask you to provide a sample for testing. You’ll find information and advice to support you to collect and deliver these samples here.

Delivering a sample to pathology

Always follow the instructions given by your doctor regarding the production of the specimen.

Always make sure that you label the container with:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Date of birth
  • Reference or hospital number (if you have one)
  • Nature of the specimen, eg urine or faeces
  • Date and time that the specimen was produced.

Once you have prepared the specimen container, please bring it to the pathology department at either St Helier Hospital or Epsom Hospital.

Hand your sample and form to a member of staff. You may be required to wait while the sample is checked against the request form.

Our staff are happy to answer any general queries you may have.

Location and opening hours

St Helier Hospital: Pathology reception on the first floor, D block. Open from  8.30am - 5pm, Monday to Friday (except bank holidays).

Epsom Hospital: Blood Sciences department, first floor, Headley wing. 

Semen samples

For information about semen samples, please see Andrology

24-hour urine collection

Your doctor has requested this special test for you. It is important that the instructions for collection of the urine are followed carefully so that correct results are obtained. Failure to do so may lead to an unclear result or the whole procedure may have to be repeated.

Choose a day that is convenient for you to collect all your urine into the container provided. Sundays may be more convenient because you have to take the collection to the laboratory on Monday morning. Fridays and Saturdays are not suitable because the urine will not keep until Monday when the laboratory is next open.

Instructions for collection of 24-hour urine sample

  • When you get up in the morning, empty your bladder into the toilet as usual (do not collect into the container). However, make a note of this time and date and write them on the label of the container as 'start' time and date.
  • Start collecting from the second time you urinate until the same time the next day. All your urine must go into the container. Remember to collect any urine passed during the night.
  • Exactly 24 hours after the 'start' time (so if your start time was 7am on Sunday morning, then 7am on Monday morning will be the last collection), empty your bladder and add this to the collection. Write 'finish' date and time on the label.
  • Please make sure that your full name and date of birth are on the container label. This is vital to ensure the identity of the specimen; it may be rejected if any information is missing. 
  • Please return it to the pathology reception as soon as possible (on the day you complete the collection).
  • Ensure the lid is tightly screwed on as any leakage during transit may invalidate the collection and it may need to be repeated.

Notes

  • If, for any reason, you miss, or spill, part of the collection, discard the whole collection and start again. If a preservative was present, contact the laboratory for a fresh container.
  • During the 24-hour collection period it is best if the container is stored away from direct heat (such as heaters or radiators) and sunlight but there is no need to specially cool it.
  • For some tests the urine collection bottle may contain acid as a preservative (such containers are marked by a warning sign). Do not empty out or wash the container.
  • Please be very careful to keep the bottle upright to prevent spillage and avoid any contact with the contents.
  • In the event of acid coming into contact with skin or mucous membranes, the affected area should be immediately washed with copious amounts of water. If you start having symptoms associated with this, please seek medical attention.

Collecting stool samples for detection of occult blood

Before and during the test

In order that your test results are as reliable as possible, it is necessary to observe the following precautions in the four days before collecting your first sample, and for the duration of the test (one collection on each of three consecutive days):

  • No red meat, liver, kidneys, or blood (eg black pudding), fish with dark meat (eg salmon, tuna, mackerel or sardines), tomatoes, cauliflower, horseradish, turnips, melons, bananas or soy beans should be eaten
  • Alcohol and remedies such as aspirin, vitamin C or iron tablets should be avoided; if you are in any doubt about the use of your medication during this test, please consult your doctor
  • A diet rich in roughage (fruits and vegetables, apart from those mentioned above) is recommended.

The test must be postponed if you are:

  • Menstruating
  • Suffering from diarrhoea
  • Bleeding from the nose or throat.

On each of the three days, place a stool sample in one of the containers provided (one for each day). Write your full name (surname and  first name), date of birth and the date and time the sample was taken on the container label.

This is vital to ensure the identity of your sample. We may not be able to process it if any information is missing.

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