A collection protocol from the cytogenetics laboratory is of critical importance, as it establishes the collection guidelines for individuals who are not intimately familiar with the operating procedures of the laboratory. A collection protocol should include the following:
• Ideal volume of specimen for collection
• Suitable transport containers, anticoagulants, or media
• Transport temperature and the maximum permissible transport time to ensure optimum specimen growth
• Confirmation of the identification of the patient from whom the specimen was collected
• Specimen container labeling and requisition form requirements
• Laboratory hours, phone numbers, contact individuals, and after-hours procedures
Once established, it is important to keep copies of this protocol anywhere a specimen might be collected, including a hospital's general laboratory, departmental clinics, and operating room suites, as well as outpatient clinics and referring physician's offices. It is also a good idea to routinely discuss collection protocols with the appropriate individuals, especially those who submit samples infrequently to the laboratory. Regular interaction will promote a complete understanding of collection requirements, as well as general expectations for a sample submitted for cytogenetic analysis. It will also provide an opportunity to discuss questions, concerns, or suggested improvements of collection or submission procedures.
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