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Specimen Submission Guidelines

The accuracy and clinical usefulness of all laboratory analyses are limited by the quality and appropriateness of the specimen.  The techniques used for the collection and submission of the specimens can influence the outcome of testing results.

Appropriate specimens are submitted by using collection units supplied by the Laboratory Support Unit of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Laboratories.  The Laboratory Support Unit is responsible for assembling the various units that are distributed to the numerous health departments, licensed physician's offices and licensed health care facilities.  Order units by completing the Requisition for Clinical Specimen Containers (DCH-0568).  Orders may be submitted by mail, fax (517-335-9039) or by phone (517-335-9040).

Quick Guide for Making Influenza Specimen Collection Kits 

Newborn Screening specimens are collected on filter paper kits and delivered in pre-addressed envelopes that can be ordered at the NBSOnline Web Store.

Please ship specimens to the following address: 

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
Bureau of Laboratories
3350 North Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Building 44   Room 155
P.O. Box 30035
Lansing, Michigan  48909

Printable UN 3373 shipping labels:

Biological Substance, Category B Shipping Label - DCH-0800   - updated 06/10/2016

Remember all packages containing clinical specimens and/or etiologic agents must conform to current regulations for the transporting of specimens of this type. These regulations are subject to change! Clients are strongly encouraged to contact their carrier representative for the most current regulations.

Federal Postal Regulations 
United Parcel Service 
Federal Express

The shipper is responsible for being sure that their package is in compliance with current regulations!


All specimens are subject to rejection if they:

  • Are of insufficient quantity or quality.
  • Are of excessive age for the type of examination requested.
  • Are received with either specimen container unlabeled or incomplete test request form or the specimen label not matching the test request form.
  • Are submitted in an inappropriate manner, i.e., are not shipped according to either Federal Postal Regulations and/or United Parcel Service/ Federal Expressor other applicable, appropriate standards.
  • Are leaking and can easily be replaced by recollection. In the event that a specimen is received leaking, every attempt will be made to salvage leaking or improperly submitted samples of cerebrospinal fluid, biopsy tissues, aspirates and other specimens attained through surgical means providing that the safety of the laboratory worker is not compromised.
  • Are in expired transport media.
  • Serum and plasma specimens will be rejected if they are in glass tubes.

In addition, specimens for culture will be rejected if they:

  • Are submitted without a transport medium or in an improper transport medium (i.e., transport medium that could compromise results).
  • Are not received within a time frame optimal for the organisms for which isolation is being attempted, the exception being reference isolates.
  • Are submitted in petri plates.  If culture is from a priority specimen or is a suspect bioterrorism agent, please call 517-335-8063 or after hours 517-335-9030, for consult and guidance.

    Important Information To Be Aware of: 
  • If the submitter of any specimen has not completed the test requisition, the form will be returned.  The testing will not be reported until the completed test requisition is received.  If delay in testing will compromise the test results, the submitter will be contacted by telephone or fax to clarify the test requisition.
  • Submitters of unsalvageable sterile and/or surgical specimens will be notified by phone of the loss of the specimen and a replacement specimen will be requested.
  • The reporting of cultures submitted for identification but which are not pure isolates will be delayed and may not be identified depending on the source of the culture (such as urine) and the mix of organisms present. 


The various specialty areas of the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories make every effort to process and test specimens submitted as quickly as possible. Turnaround time is an important indicator of our Quality Assurance program.

The Bureau of Laboratories has implemented a data reporting system which allows agencies to receive Microbiology and Virology laboratory reports via an Automatic Fax Transmission.  FAX REPORTING will provide a 24-72 hour improvement in turnaround time by avoiding the mail carrier service.  If you are interested in converting your agency to an Automatic Fax Transmission agency, please contact the DASH Unit at 517-335-8059.  Faxed newborn screening results can be arranged by calling Denise Archambeault at (517) 335-8543.

Fax Agency Instructions and Statement of Understanding

Rev. 6/10/2016