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Definition, Preparation, Methods - Specimen Collection | 11th Nursing : Chapter 8 : Nursing Procedures

Chapter: 11th Nursing : Chapter 8 : Nursing Procedures

Specimen Collection

A specimen may be defined as a small quantity of a substance or object which shows the kind and quality of the whole (sample).

Specimen Collection



A specimen may be defined as a small quantity of a substance or object which shows the kind and quality of the whole (sample).

Specimen collection defined as the collection of the specimen for the purposes of diagnosis, treatment and recovery.


Preparation of the clients:

·           Explain the procedure to the patient. It helps to gain the client’s trust and cooperation.

·           When preparing the client the nurse’s explanation should be clear, straight forward and complete.

·           Be sure that the client has understood clearly and correctly the information.

·           In case of collection of urine, instruct the client to wash the genitalia with soap and water and then rinse it in water before collecting the specimen.

·           Instruct the client not to contaminate the outside of the bottle.

·           Instructions to use gloves and other barriers as necessary.


Types of containers used for specimen collection

·           All specimens are collected in clean and dry containers.

·           Use containers with wide mouth.

·           Sterile containers are used for culture.

·           Wax lined disposable cups are used for sputum and stool specimens.

·           Large containers are used for 24 hours urine specimens.

·           Sterile test tubes are used to collect fluids.

·           Clean slides are used to collect smears.

·           No antiseptic solution must be present in the specimen bottle as they may hamper the growth of micro organism and thus obscure the results.


Collection of urine specimen:

Method of collecting single urine specimen:

Single urine specimen means the amount of urine voided at a time. Usually the morning specimens are collected. The amount of 100-120 ml of urine will be sufficient for the usual tests.

After cleaning the genital, the client passes urine into clean urinal or a clean kidney tray or directly in to specimen bottle, taking care not to spill the urine on the out side of the container.

Method of collect Midstream specimen for culture:

Ask the client to clean the genital area with soap and water then rinse in water alone. In female clients the labia are separated for cleaning and kept apart until the urine had been collected. In male client, the foreskin should be retracted and the glans penis is cleaned before the collection of the urine.

The client begins to void in to the toilet, commode or bed pan. Than the client stops the stream of urine, the sterile container is positioned and continues to void in to the container. When enough urine has been voided, for specimen, the client stops the stream again; the container is removed and then finishes voiding in the original receptacle.

Method of collecting 24 hours urine specimen:

24 hours urine specimen means to collect all the urine voided in 24 hours. The collection of urine begins at 6AM and discard the whole urine. All the subsequent voiding should be measured and collected in the bottle and labelled. Continue to collect till morning. Ask the client to void at 6 -AM on the next day and add it to the previously collected.

Method of collecting urine specimen from unconscious clients and children:

In male babies or unconscious male clients, take a test tube, a barrel of syringe or nirodh or condom with rubber tubing and is attached to the penis. It is kept in place by adhesive tapes. In female attach a wide mouthed container or a funnel with rubber tubing to the vulva by means of a T binder. The rubber tubing is connected to a bottle and the urine is collected in the bottle.


Method of collecting sputum specimen:

Water proof disposable sputum cups or wide mouthed containers are used to collect the sputum specimen. The client should be given the container and is instructed to raise the material from the lungs and not simply expectorating the saliva or discharges from the nose or throat. The sputum should be collected before brushing the teeth and the food. Mouth can be rinsed with plain water, not any antiseptic mouth washes.


Method of collecting stool specimen:

Water proof disposable sputum cups or wide mouthed containers are provide with necessary instructions. The client passes stool in a clean bedpan. A small amount of stool is removed with a stick or spatula and is placed in the container. Discard the stick in the waste bin.

Nursing function for specimen collection

1.        Complete lab Request

2.        Place the specimen is appropriate place for pick up

3.        Document specimen sent and anything unusual about the appearance of specimen.

4.        Labell the patients details on the containers.

Collecting Stool Specimen for Routine Examination:


Collection of a small quantity of stool sample in a container for testing in the laboratory.


To test the stool for normalcy and presence of abnormalities.


1.        A Clean specimen container.

2.        A spatula for putting the specimen into the container.

3.        Dry bed-pan (for helpless patients). Additional bedpan for rinsing and cleaning.

4.        Laboratory requisition form.

5.        Clean gloves.

6.        Waste paper (for wrapping used spatula).

7.        A pitcher of water (for helpless patient).and Tissues / towel


Special Considerations

1.        Send specimen to be examined for parasites immediately, so that parasites may be observed under microscope while viable, fresh and warm.

2.        Inform if bleeding hemorrhoids or hematuria is present.

3.        Postpone test if woman has menstrual periods, until three days after it has ceased.

4.        Consider that intake of folic acid, anticoagulant, barium, bismuth, mineral oil, vitamin C, and antibiotics may alter the results.

5.        Use two bedpans for helpless patient-one for collecting specimen and another for cleaning.


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