Laboratory Specimen Transport Guidelines

Jun 13, 2023 | Pharmaceutical Courier

When it comes to transporting laboratory specimens for medical facilities, there is zero room for errors. 

At Stat Experts, we’ve successfully transported thousands of laboratory specimens for hospitals, health clinics, labs, doctors’ offices, and imaging centers all across the country, abiding by laboratory specimen transport guidelines. Our team understands exactly what it takes to safely and securely ship biological samples, and we’re here to provide you with some essential rules to follow when preparing to transport specimens. 

Lab Specimen Handling Guidelines

All transportation of human laboratory specimens is governed by the Department of Transportation and detailed by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Lab specimens are considered “Materials of Trade.” 

Rules for handling lab samples vary by specimen types, such as blood, urine, tissue samples, and other biological material. While ALL specimens should be considered hazardous, they each require unique packaging and handling procedures. Both medical personnel and drivers should be fully trained for specific specimen handling guidelines.

Lab Specimen Packaging Guidelines

Please follow these detailed guidelines when placing lab specimens inside a package for shipment.

Leak-Proof Containers

All packaging used to transport biological lab specimens must be able to contain any leaks or spills inside the container. Packaging must be leak proof and puncture resistant.

Secondary Containers

Every lab specimen must be placed inside a sealable zip-style plastic bag clearly marked with a biohazard symbol. The zip-style bag is then placed inside a leak-proof shipping container. 


Labels must display each patient’s identification information including their medical record number. Labels should be printed cleanly and clearly with no obstructions covering the printed information. 

Secure Closures

All packaging must be able to be securely closed before and during transport.


Only one patient specimen should be placed in a secondary container. NEVER combine samples from more than one patient into one specimen bag.

Sharp Objects

Always remove needles or other sharp objects from all specimens, containers, or packing materials before packaging and transporting.

Lab Specimen Transport Guidelines

The following guidelines cover the requirements for transporting laboratory specimens, whether they’re delivered by courier across town or flown across the country. 


Carriers may use private vehicles for transporting human laboratory specimens. However, they must follow specific rules, including: 

  • Hiring drivers trained specifically for human sample handling
  • Only using the vehicle for delivery during transportation
  • Proof of legal insurance coverage
  • Official driver license
  • Maintaining a spill plan
  • Not allowing passengers during deliveries
  • Not combining deliveries with other cargo

Room Temperature

Different specimens may require specific temperatures for transportation, such as refrigerated or frozen. Please pay careful attention to the individual temperature conditions listed for each sample. To ensure consistency, always use a vehicle with a temperature-controlled compartment.

Avoid Extreme Temperatures

All lab specimen packages must avoid direct sunlight or close proximity to equipment that generates heat such as refrigerators, vents, or motors. 

Pneumatic Tubes

Never use pneumatic tubes for transporting biological samples. 

Final Notes About Laboratory Specimen Transport Guidelines

Always review specific documentation and requirements for individual labs and other facilities, whether transporting to or from, to ensure that you’re following any unique rules regarding their facility. You may be required to follow certain labeling instructions, color coding, or other handling precautions. 

If you ever have questions or are unsure about specific laboratory specimen transport guidelines, always contact your carrier for answers or to make them aware of your concerns. 

At Stat Experts, we’re upfront about our commitment to understanding and following ALL of the laboratory specimen transport guidelines, whether they’re government regulated, manufacturer required, or industry-specific practices. 

You can always count on Stat Experts to handle and ship your lab samples safely, securely, and on time. Contact us today for a free estimate.

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Exciting Developments at Stat Experts

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