Proper transportation of blood specimens

By: January 6th, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

Do you need to observe the triple package guidelines when transporting blood specimens not by freight or mail but by courier or employee from the clinic to the lab—about ¼ of a mile by car?  Is a primary and secondary container without absorbent material sufficient for this type of specimen transport?

Specimens sent by courier via ground transportation need to be in a leakproof primary which is the blood tube itself and either put into a zip bag with absorbent (e.g.paper towel) and then placed into a cooler  or in a rack with the absorbent on the bottom of the cooler and the cooler is considered the secondary container.

Coolers must be placed on the floor of the vehicle behind the passenger’s seat as a first choice.  If the floors are occupied with specimens, then the cooler must be held on the back set with the seat belt.

More information on packaging infectious substances for ground shipment can be found in The Complete Guide to Laboratory Safety, Third Edition. To purchase this book, click here.

Also check out Terry Jo Gile’s new DVD Effective Education for Medical Courier Excellence which covers this material and many other issues a courier faces daily. It can be purchased through the products page of her website, or by contacting her at for more information.


By Crystal Roop on January 6th, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Can you please tell me how the cooler should be labeled? Does it require any indication of Bio-hazards or shipping label?

Would this method be true for tranfering of tissue specimens in formaldehyde?

By Cindy Holliday on June 26th, 2013 at 5:45 pm

if the courier is using their own vehicle should that vehicle be labeled on the outside with some kind of signage that clearly marks the vehicle as transporting Bio-Hazard/blood, or lab specimens

By Dan Scungio on June 27th, 2013 at 9:54 am

The private courier vehicle does not need to have specific labeling. The labeling must be on the secondary containers used to transport the items.

By Sylvia Cobb on February 3rd, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Can blood in test tubes in a cooler be placed in the open bed of a pick up truck and transported? My concern is that if the vehicle was in an accident and the cooler went flying out of the truck bed, broke open and caused broken test tubes of blood to be spilled out wherever and perhaps come into contact with people.


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