Accessioning/Specimen Processing

Accurate identification and placement is important for the easy retrieval of arriving specimens. Therefore, assigning unique accession numbers is often a technique used by laboratories to facilitate locating and tracking the specimen during testing and storage. Rejecting specimens that do not meet regulatory guidelines is a task burdened on the drug-testing laboratories. Rejection of federally regulated specimens can takes places in cases when the specimen identification number on the bottle label does not match with its associated CCF, the identification number is absent, the tamper-evident seal is broken, the volume of urine is the bottle is inappropriate, the printed name or signature does not match with the collector, or an unapproved CCF is submitted and memorandum of explanation cannot be obtained.

The laboratory accession number is used to track the specimen when it is accepted. The introduction of bar-coding and LIMS has generally enhanced the quality of this process. Once bar-coded, scanning of the specimen at any stage of the testing allows the LIMS to monitor it accurately and associate it with the captured testing results.

Storing the specimen in a secure area is a forensic requirement which then allows limited access only to accessioning/ processing personnel and a few senior employees with a valid reason to access the specimen. Most aliquoting for testing has to be performed in this secure area. To prevent associating inaccurate test results with a specimen, it’s important to curtail misidentification during aliquoting; LIMS has made this process easier. Aliquoting a specimen for testing, a technician can scan the bottle barcode and generate a matching secondary label which is placed on the aliquot tube- the process is called morphing. The technician must carefully compare bottles and aliquot labels and ensure that they match in case the laboratory does not have LIMS. Screening and confirming drugs in a specimen through separate aliquots is another systemic process required to reduce the probability for misidentifications. Removal of a separate aliquot from the original bottle for confirmation testing becomes necessary if the drug is screened positive after removing the aliquot. Probability of inadvertently associating an aliquot with the incorrect bottle on two different occasions is greatly reduced with such practices. Moreover, two unique scientific principles lay the basis for screening and confirmation technologies to enhance drug identification.

Handling of specimens and aliquots should be documented on the CCFs by accessioning technicians throughout the aforementioned processes. They are also supposed to document the recording date and storage location for the specimen when the testing is complete. To allow retesting, in cases where original testing is inquired, specimens must be kept frozen for 1 year.

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