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7 Steps to Effective Specimen Handling

Professional organization's guidelines eliminate the risk of error.

Published: August 26, 2011

Woman writing in logbook

1. Establish consistent and clear expectations for acceptable methods of written and verbal communication.

2. Create a specimen chain-of-custody flowchart for your staff to reference during procedures. Doing so will clearly outline who's supposed to be handling specimens and when. Keep the chain as simple as possible in order to limit the number of specimen handoffs, which increase error potential.

3. Immediately place retrieved tissue in properly labeled containers to reduce risks of specimens being lost during post-op cleanup.

4. Require surgeons, certified surgical technologists and circulators to verbally confirm when specimens are retrieved, secured and labeled.

5. Use pre-printed checklists that outline proper specimen gathering steps, laboratory requisition slips and daily specimen logs to save time and ensure all required information for specimen processing is obtained.

6. Have the circulator fill out a standardized checklist before transporting specimens out of the OR to reduce error potential and ensure labeling accuracy. The circulator should also ask each member of the surgical team to confirm that the specimen has been verified.

7. Use a logbook to record the following for each specimen taken: the specimen name, 2 patient identifiers, the date, the time of log-in and the name of each surgical team member involved in transporting the specimen.

Association of Surgical Technologists


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