Biological Specimen

Specimen Collection, Handling and Storing

Specimen collection for research protocols requires specific attention to the proper timing, collection, labeling, processing, storage and shipping of samples. Prior to the start of specimen collection, the research coordinator needs to gather information and understand the proper procedure for each of the samples being collected.

Most protocols will have the details of how to collect, process and store research samples. Typically, the lab handling the assay will have specific instructions on how to handle the specimen from collection to storage including what identifiers are necessary for the storage labels. The timing for the collection of research samples is extremely important to ensure quality data. Samples being collected for research that are timed based on medication dosages such as Pharmacokinetics (PK) samples need to be collected exactly on time. If the collection time is incorrect, the specific time collected needs to be noted so that the sample results can be correlated with that time. 

General knowledge may include which additives are in different types of tubes, whether collection tube requires mixing or inversion and suggested number of inversions per collection tube, differences between serum, plasma, cells, whole blood, type of tube required for each sample, length of time the sample is stable, specific centrifugation information such as centrifugation speed (Revolutions Per Minute or RPMs) and length of time required for proper separation of the sample for the required assay. Some specimens require the use of a refrigerated centrifuge, specific ultra-low freezers (-20 or -70 degrees) or room temperature storage. Other special considerations could include light or temperature sensitivity from collection to storage which may require foil wrapped collection tubes and amber storage tubes or ambient (room temperature) collection until being assayed. It is important to note that every test can vary depending on the type of machine being used to assay the sample so communication with the involved assay lab is important. 

International Air and Transportation Association (IATA) training and proof of IATA training are required by law for any person who is responsible for shipping dangerous goods via a public delivery service.  The Mayo Clinic Website offers free IATA training. All researchers shipping specimens are encouraged to complete this training, keep documentation on file and renew their certification every two years.

Training for Clinical Skills

When clinical skills are required to complete research studies, training is available for basic skills. Ohio State Medical Center Educational Development and Resources offers training for research coordinators during their Patient Care Associate (PCA)/ Student Nurse Assistant (SNA) training classes at the Ackerman Road training center. Training is offered for EKGs, vital signs and phlebotomy. Classes consist of lecture and practice and take around four hours per skill depending on class size.

Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support 

Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support training is held the first Tuesday of every month at the Ackerman Training Center and staff can sign up on the Educational Development and Resources website. All staff should complete the Basic Life Support course and print off proof of completion to turn in the day of training. Training includes hands-on training for Basic Life Support with infants, children and adults. Staff must pass a written exam to be certified. Certification is valid for 2 years. 


Phlebotomy training is via Buckeye Learn.

IV Starts

Only licensed Registered Nurses (RN) are permitted to place, use and maintain IVs per State of Ohio Board of Nursing Rules. LPNs that have specialty training (IV certification) are also permitted to place IVs on adults. LPNs are permitted to administer only approved IV medications per the approved medication list according to Ohio Board of Nursing rules and regulations. Refer to the Ohio Board of Nursing website for guidelines.