What happens to my blood samples?
July 31, 2012 4:33 PM   Subscribe

Due to my condition and the medications I take, I have very regular full blood workups. I asked the phlebotomist yesterday how the samples are disposed of after testing is complete. She said they might be held for as long as two years, but wasn't certain. Which surprised me. I'm curious, what happens to all my blood samples? I'm in Australia as I'm sure there's liable to be country-specific variations.
posted by michswiss to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In the year I world in a clinical lab in high school, I dumped untold thousands of tubes of blood into red biohazard boxes for disposal, which meant incineration followed by landfill. IIRC, we kept most samples for a week, with occasional exceptions. It was my job when I came in in on tuesday morning , fir example, to dump last Tuesday's samples. They were refrigerated for a week, and then either dumped or (sometimes) frozen. Since it was a smaller hospital, I would also regularly send off aliquats to big labs elsewhere for the more exotic tests.
posted by rockindata at 5:21 PM on July 31, 2012

urgh, typos, sorry. Typing fast on phone.
posted by rockindata at 5:26 PM on July 31, 2012

Also, that was in a lab in a small-midsized regional hospital in the Midwest United States. Most clinical testing, by the way, is done by horribly expensive machines that only use maybe 10-100 ┬Ál of your blood to do all the tests- the vast majority is dumped.
posted by rockindata at 5:30 PM on July 31, 2012

Are you participating in any clinical trials or on any recently approved medications? If so, your blood may be kept in a biorepository so that third parties can verify any results found by the original researchers. You would have signed a release for this to happen, but you may have skimmed over it. It's pretty cool, samples are barcoded and then frozen (they have a wide variety of very large, very cold freezers) and then shipped all over the world as needed.
posted by anaelith at 5:33 PM on July 31, 2012

In my experience with hemodialysis, blood-contaminated waste is specifically disposed of in red biohazard garbage cans/bags. The kinds of things I've seen go in include blood-filled tubing, needle-less syringes, gloves that could have possibly been exposed to blood*, and damaged/contaminated blood vials. Any blood sample vials that didn't pull a vacuum (and so didn't fill with blood) or were dropped on the floor after filling are put in the red bins.

There is no lab in my dialysis unit, so all vials are sent elsewhere for testing. I don't know how long they are kept or how they are disposed of there.

*Recently, regulations at my center tightened and all gloves go in a red bin.
posted by WasabiFlux at 5:46 PM on July 31, 2012

The National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council has minimum requirements for various types of samples, records, & purposes.

Beyond that it depends on a mixture of lab practices, state government requirements, whether you've consented (implicitly or explicitly) to allowing other uses, etc.
posted by Pinback at 5:47 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Keeping -- ie, freezing -- blood isn't cheap in any jurisdictions I know. It's most likely your samples are incinerated soon after it is tested.
posted by docgonzo at 9:31 AM on August 1, 2012

« Older How do I survive a year or two in a small town...   |   Help me sew a bamboo martial arts gi. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.