Sarah Gilmour
Sarah Gilmour
Sarah Gilmour
Helios Scholar
School: Hendrix College
Hometown: Peoria, Arizona
Mentor: Callie Sinclair
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Specimen collection and shipping errors

Collecting biological specimens in a correct, efficient way is essential to biomedical research; yet, this process can be a source of significant error. According to a Mayo Medical report, approximately 68% of all errors that occur in clinical laboratories occur in the pre-analytical phase, before the samples reach the lab. One method to address the problem of specimen collection and shipping errors is to make a series of thorough, detailed, illustrated collection instruction sheets for many of TGen’s most-used samples including saliva, blood, tissue, and urine. To create them, extensive research was conducted, including reading published journals on collection techniques and shipping practices, conducting interviews with staff members from TGen and Ashion, and reviewing existing instructions and SOPs from TGen and external sources. The most common errors were errors of packaging or preservatives, shipping temperatures, quantity of sample, contamination of sample, and labeling. The newly developed set of collection sheets created increased standardization and readability through detailed instructions, clarifying pictures and diagrams, and clearly labeled sections with headings. These standardized instructions may improve collection and shipping techniques. Having properly collected and shipped samples will ensure samples are processed without delay and keep laboratory research running smoothly.