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Specimen collection is the process in which fluids or tissues are obtained for laboratory analysis. In most cases, it is the first step in diagnosing a patient before administering the right treatment. The specimen also gives a health practitioner a patient’s clinical picture. The specimen collection procedures must always protect both the specimen collector and the patient’s safety and health and minimize the risk of errors.
A correct specimen collection formula is vital to mitigate the risk of contamination leading to inaccurate results hence wrong treatment. Being a Specimen Collector means you have the patient’s life and treatment in your hands; thus, you need to maintain the highest professional levels. Examples of specimens collected in hospitals include blood, sputum, urine, and stool.
To prevent patient identification errors, make sure you confirm the patients’ identity before collecting a sample. You must then document the collected sample in appropriate forms. When recording the specimen samples, make sure you label all the containers used for specimen collection in the patient’s presence. In case the sample collected is suspected to be biohazardous, the tube or container carrying the samples should have appropriate hazardous labeling.
Collecting specimens puts you at risk of getting infected, so you must observe proper safety precautions. During the collection and transportation of any sample, you must be wearing suitable personal protective clothing. You should also follow the right hand and hospital hygiene principles. In case you are using sharps to collect samples, you should ensure you properly dispose of them after use. The specimen must be collected to minimize safety and health risk faced by the staff handling the sample.
The specimen must be collected using the right equipment and technique at the right time. You should store the collected specimen appropriately. Specimens must be collected in sterilized containers to ensure the validity of the specimens. Decanting specimens increases the chances of contamination; thus, you should transport the collected specimen in the container used to collect. You should also use the right equipment as not all samples are compatible with one tube or container.
You must always have the patients or next of kin consent before the collection of any sample. Therefore, take time to explain to them the purposes of the collected specimen and the collection procedure. The patient also has the right to know the amount of time it will take to get the results.
Specimen collection is a dream job for many and is as risky as it is rewarding. If you observe the laid-out hygiene and safety precautions, you will need not worry about your safety. The specimen collection is like any other job, and the only difference is you can’t afford any mistakes and inaccuracies. But following the hospitals and job procedures, errors are eliminated from the job.
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