Specimen Packaging Requirements

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Specimen Packaging Requirements

Packing and Shipping Samples

As of January 1, 2007, new Department of Transportation and International Air Transportation Association regulations took effect specifying how clinical samples must be packaged and shipped. We have prepared information sheets, listed below, to assist you with the preparation of your laboratory submissions.

Many of you are already preparing your specimens in a manner that complies with the new regulations. In most cases, compliance is a matter of common sense. There are differences in packaging and labeling requirements for ground versus air shipment. This particularly applies to shipments incorporating dry ice and formalin.

  • Packaging must be leak-proof.
  • There must be absorbent material to absorb all enclosed liquids.
  • Packages need to withstand the ordinary bumps, drops, vibrations and, in the case of air transport, pressure and temperature changes to which they are likely to be exposed.
  • In some cases, though, triple layer packing is mandatory.
  • In very rare instances, specially manufactured and rated materials will be necessary.
  • See the document linked below for specific details or for shipping supplies which will be helpful in getting your specimens to us in good condition and in compliance with regulations.

All responsibility for shipping compliance rests with the individual sending the package (i.e., the shipper). In addition, the couriers can face stiff fines and the temporary loss of use of transport vehicles if they carry leaking packages or if they do not adequately protect their employees. They have the right to question and refuse packages, and are likely to do so if a shipper is known to carelessly package specimens. Even leaking ice packs will not be tolerated. Fines can be imposed on shippers, and instances of leaking packages are reportable to the Center for Disease Control.

The incorporation of any medical sharps in the package, such as syringes with needles, jeopardizes the safety of all package carriers and laboratory personnel. Shipment of these items in laboratory submissions is a violation of Regulated Medical Waste shipment regulations.

Please read the document listed below and share it with all members of your organization who may be involved in shipping samples. The first 3 pages cover the most common instances encountered in the shipment of samples to diagnostic facilities by veterinarians. Call us if you have any questions at 607-253-3900. We also sell shipping materials and have appropriate materials which will assist in compliance with the shipping rules, particularly for the shipment of samples from complete necropsy examinations or multiple animals, such as would be expected from herd testing or referral laboratories. Versions of some of the required shipping labels have also been included in a format that can be photocopied and affixed to packages. In addition, the most commonly used label has been linked separately.