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Test Requesting

If you require information on individual tests, please use the search facility, or click on the 'tests' tab.

All tests must be requested in line with Trust Policy C49 “Policy for Requesting Patient Investigations and Referrals and the Reporting and Interpretation of Results.”

The majority of requests are now made electronically using Order Comms. To avoid misidentification of samples it is important that all Order Comms labels are printed at the same time as the sample is taken. Please also remember to check the label once it has been printed and ensure that all details are correct and legible.

A request form must accompany all specimens to the laboratory. This should show clearly the patient’s details including:

  • Name
  • Unit number/NHS number
  • Date of birth
  • Ward/GP name and number
  • Type of specimen
  • Date and time of sample collection
  • Identity of sample collector
  • Tests required
  • All relevant clinical data

The laboratory will not process requests when there is insufficient information for unequivocal identification of the patient. These samples will be rejected.

Please provide appropriate contact details for each test request (e.g. ward location).  The laboratory communicates urgent results by telephone. Failure to supply information regarding the whereabouts of a patient delays release of results.

Please supply full clinical details when requesting tests.  This assists the laboratory in interpretation of results.  In addition, tests analysed at external laboratories will only be dispatched if the clinical reason is clear.  Lack of clinical details will delay analysis significantly.

Before accepting samples for analysis, staff must ensure that the minimum criteria for sample identification are met.  Minimum requirements for sample and request form are:

  • Patients full name/coded identifier (Casualty number for unknowns/registration number for GUM patients)
  • Date of birth
  • Unit/NHS number

Samples and request forms failing to meet the minimum criteria will not be processed. A comment will be added to the request detailing the reason for rejection.

Incompletely labelled requests may be processed with qualifying comments:

  • If no consultant but source on card, reports will be sent to the source with the consultant stated as unknown.
  • If no source but consultant given, reports will be sent to the consultant’s secretary.
  • Cards with neither consultant/source should have unknown entered in each field

The Department operates a policy of demand management in order to avoid wasting resouces. The following table details the minimum time interval between measurements. Please do not send requests more frequently, as these will not be analysed.

If a repeat test is required for a specific clinical reason, e.g. repeat when patient is well, please indicate this clearly on the request card.

This does not apply where the previous request is unsuitable, sample received, sample insufficient etc.

Test Minimum repeat interval
CRP 1 day
CEA 7 days
CA19.9 7 days
CA125 7 days
CA15.3 7 days
PSA 7 days
Lipids 1 month
Ferritin/Iron studies 1 month
Serum free light chains 1 month
Thyroid function testing 6 weeks
HbA1c 2 months
NT-proBNP 6 months
Vitamin D 6 months
PTH 3 months
Vitamin B12 3 months
Folate 3 months
Protein Electrophoresis 6 months (unless known patient with myeloma)

Samples are kept in the laboratory for at least 48 hours before disposal.  The Order Comms IT system and the laboratory IT system are not linked.

Please send a new request card, electronic or handwritten, stating that the sample has already been sent previously.

Please check that the previous Biochemistry sample type is correct for the requested add-on.  Add-on requests are reviewed throughout the day.

Please do not ring or bleep the laboratory to request add-on tests, unless the test is urgent for clinical management of the patient.

Certain tests are not suitable to be added to existing samples.  These include: bicarbonate, lactate, PTH and glucose. Please send a further sample for analysis.

The facility exists for urgent requests to be made at any time. The laboratory receives and processes approximately 6000 requests during a normal working day. It performs approximately 25 000 tests per day.

The clear identification of genuinely urgent requests is therefore vital.

Please do not mark as urgent unless the results are required for the immediate clinical management of the patient as misuse of this service may delay analysis of genuinely urgent samples.

The recommendations of the Caldicott Report (1997) and the subsequent Information Governance Review (2013) have been adopted by the National Health Service as a whole. These recommendations relate to the security of Patient Identifying Data (PID) and the uses to which they are put. Please refer to the UHNM NHS Trust policy No. IT02 Personal Information Security and Acceptable Use for further details.