How to Submit a Specimen

Step 1.
Fill out an Order Form ensuring that at least two specimen identifiers are included on both the order form and the specimen itself.

Step 2.
Package the order form along with the specimen. The following table describes shipping conditions and preferred specimen handling procedures for samples submitted to the Molecular Microbiology Lab. Please refer to the list of Acceptable Specimens for more information.

Specimen Type
Specimen Handling Information
Fresh Tissues and Fluids
  • Fresh tissues and fluids are preferred to fixed material (see below).
  • Tissue or fluid placed in a sterile, DNA-free container is optimal for testing.
  • Some anticoagulants and additives can interfere with testing. Please refer to our Acceptable Specimens page for more information.
  • For solid tissue, we do not process more than 1 cubic cm.
  • Ship fresh frozen tissue specimens frozen (on dry ice).
Formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissues
  • Formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissue (PET) is accepted.
  • PET cassettes are preferred to sections or unstained slides. We will return the cassette upon completion of testing. If the entire PET cassette cannot be released, we do accept sections from the tissue. Please submit 10 sections of 10 micron thickness in a DNA-free tube with two patient identifiers.
  • Unless instructed otherwise, if >1 PET per requisition is submitted, tissue from a maximum of 2 PETs is chosen and combined in 1:1 ratio. For analysis of >2 PETs, separate requisitions are required. Blocks from different body sites will be considered separate tests and should be accompanied by separate request forms.
  • Multiple cassettes can be pooled into a single assay. Simply indicate the desired combination(s) on the request form (eg. "Please combine blocks 9620A and 9620B for single assay"). Please note: combining two or more PET specimens for a single assay will result in testing of less material from each PET, potentially reducing the overall sensitivity.
  • Formalin fixation dramatically reduces the sensitivity of the assays due to reduced template yield and quality. Fresh tissue is the optimal specimen of choice, as it reduces the chance of introducing exogenous DNA templates or microorganisms during embedding/fixation.
  • Formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissue can be shipped at room temperature.
Bacterial and Fungal Isolates
  • Bacteria or fungi growing on solid media are preferred.
  • Specimens submitted in broth culture or smear-positive blood culture are also accepted.
  • Fresh subculture of viable organism required.
  • Please indicate Gram stain result and any other phenotypic observations on the request form.
  • Ship organisms at room temperature.

Step 3.
Packaging and Transport
As of March 1, 2003 we would like all clients sending specimens to us to adopt a uniform specimen packaging procedure. In order to ensure the safety of our couriers, and to make our processing workflow as streamlined an trouble-free as possible, we ask that you follow this packing protocol:
Each patient specimen(s) and requisition sheet must be contained in a single, separate specimen bag. We cannot accept specimens and paperwork from multiple patients if they are gathered together in a single bag.
  • All specimens should be contained in sealed plastic specimen bags
  • The specimen bags should display the Biohazard logo
  • Each specimen bag should contain enough absorbent material to contain all of the contents of specimen tubes in case of breakage
  • Each specimen bag should contain only ONE patient specimen(s)
  • Each specimen should be accompanied by the corresponding requisition sheet, folded and placed in the outside pocket of the specimen bag
We will provide ziplock specimen bags upon request. To order bags, please call (206) 520-4600.

Step 4.

Ship specimens adhering to the above criteria via courier service (FedEx First Overnight recommended) to the following address:

Mailing Address
Attention: Molecular Diagnosis
Clinical Microbiology Lab, NW220
University of Washington Medical Center
1959 NE Pacific Street
Seattle, WA 98195
Phone: 206-598-5735
Alternate phone: 206-598-6147

Please feel free to contact us with questions on how to submit a specimen.