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Labeling samples

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Labeling samples

Properly label specimen containers with the correct information so they are processed in a timely manner. Information on the specimen container will be matched to information submitted to the State Lab electronically using LabOnline or with a completed State Lab paper requisition form.

Improperly labeled samples are at risk of:

  • Delayed results.
  • Being rejected (not processed, and no results will be released).
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Clinical samples

A minimum of two of the following are required on the specimen label:

  • Patient’s first and last name.
  • Date of birth.
  • Medical record number (MRN) or patient identification (ID). 

The following information is optional, but highly preferred:

  • Date of collection.
  • The chain of custody number (this is found under the barcode on the LabOnline printout) when ordered through LabOnline.


Rejection criteria

Specimens will not be processed if:

  • Any required pieces of information are missing from the specimen container or test order.
  • The manufacturing expiration date on the transport tube or container is covered or removed.
  • Specimens are collected using expired supplies.
  • The transport tube or container is damaged or leaking.

If the required information listed on the container does not match exactly to what is submitted in LabOnline or on the State Lab requisition form, it is  unsatisfactory and can not be processed until the correct information can be confirmed. If you receive an email about an unsatisfactory sample, notify cdphe_labcoordinator@state.co.us as soon as possible with the correct information so the report can be released to you.

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Newborn screening samples

Instructions on how to complete newborn screening dried blood spot (DBS) cards are on page 3 of the Newborn screening for collection, demographics, and transit of DBS cards guidance.

Complete the demographic fields on the DBS cards clearly and legibly with blue or black ink. More DBS cards can be ordered in the Newborn blood spot screening supply order form.

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Rabies samples

The rabies laboratory at the State Lab is temporarily closed for renovation. Read the rabies testing update for more information.

Double bag and label each specimen with the chain of custody number from LabOnline. Place specimens in an inner waterproof container with cold packs, then place the waterproof  container into a separate hard-sided shipping container or cooler. 

The outside of the shipping container or cooler must be clearly labeled:

  • “RABIES”.
  • LabOnline chain of custody number.

Example of a rabies label:
CDPHE Rabies Lab (#XXXXXX - this is the chain of custody number)
8100 Lowry Blvd., Denver, CO 80230

If any required pieces of information are missing, your sample will be rejected.

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Water samples

Include the following information on a label for each bottle:

  • Name of the collector or client.
  • Sample location. Give each bottle a distinct description so it is easy to tell the samples apart.
  • Collection date.
  • Collection time.

If any required pieces of information are missing, your sample will be rejected.

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Food samples

Include the following when labeling food samples:

  • Production date.
  • The approximate time the product was completed.
  • Name of the collector or client.
  • Product name. 
    • For free cottage food testing, write “Cottage foods testing bill DEHS per MOU”.
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FAQs

The information on the specimen label must match the information on the test order form so the lab can process the test appropriately and accurately. This is especially important for clinical specimens that include patient information.
If the information on the tube label and test order do not match, you will receive an email about an unsatisfactory sample, and the sample can not be processed. This may cause a delay in processing the test and reporting results. Email cdphe_labcoordinators@state.co.us with the correct information so the results can be made available to you.
If required information is missing, your sample will be rejected.

If you are submitting a human specimen, at least two identifiers are required to confirm the sample belongs to the patient which include:
Patient’s first and last name.
Patient’s date of birth.
Medical record number (MRN) or patient identification (ID). 

If only one required identifier is listed, the sample will be rejected.

If the specimen does not include any information on the label, the sample will be rejected.

If you do not order the test in LabOnline or include a State Lab paper requisition form, the sample will be rejected.

A test is unsatisfactory for the following reasons:
The information on the specimen label does not match the information listed in the test order. For example, the patient’s name on the specimen container is spelled differently than what is listed in the submitted test order. 
The sample was collected incorrectly or leaked in transit. In this case, it is recommended to recollect a specimen. 
If you receive an email about an unsatisfactory sample, notify cdphe_labcoordinators@state.co.us using an encrypted email to correct or confirm the specimen information.

Order new test supplies using the public health testing supply order form. Unused, expired test kits can be discarded into normal waste.

Not all manufacturers will include labels in the box. If you need labels, purchase appropriately sized labels to attach to the specimen container. The State Lab does not provide labels.

If required information is missing from the specimen label, the sample will be rejected. If all the required information is on the specimen label, but you did not include the optional information, the specimen will still be processed.

No. Place each sample in its own firmly sealed biohazard bag to avoid cross-contamination. Placing multiple samples in the same biohazard bag is unacceptable because it puts the samples at greater risk for cross-contamination and puts laboratory staff at risk when handling cross-contaminated specimens. 

No. A standard refrigerator can be used to store specimens. We recommend a dedicated refrigerator for specimens to avoid cross-contamination between specimens and other refrigerated items, such as food and beverages.