Criteria for Acceptance of Specimens

Clinical Testing:

Public Health Ontario’s laboratory only performs clinical testing on human specimens that are insured services within the meaning of Ontario’s Health Insurance Act, s. 11.

Who can Submit:

The ordering healthcare provider must be authorized to order laboratory tests in Ontario as  defined by Section 18 Ontario Regulation 45/22 of the Laboratory and Specimen Collection Centre Licensing Act.


  • non-critical specimen:  routine specimens
  • critical specimens include specimens that are difficult or impossible to recollect (i.e., CSF, tissue, autopsy material), or outbreak specimens whose conditions for collection were impossible to reproduce

Criteria for Determining Acceptance of Non-Critical Specimens

  1. Specimen containers must be labelled with:
    • the patient's full name (or unique code number in the case of anonymous testing)


    • one other unique identifier such as the patient's date of birth or health card number


    • the date of collection


    • the time of collection (for time-sensitive tests only)
  1. All fields of the General Test Requisition must be completed including
    • the patient's full name, date of birth, health card number (must match the specimen label)
    • test(s) requested
    • source and type of specimen
    • date of onset
    • date of collection
    • legally authorized requester's name and address
  1. Patient test requisition forms received from a clinic staffed by rotating physicians (e.g., hassle-free clinic) shall include the name of the attending physician. Patient reports may be addressed to the Coordinator of the Clinic.
  1. The specimen packaging meets the minimum Federal Regulation - Transportation of Dangerous Goods packaging requirements,
  1. The specimen is not leaking.
  1. Specific testing criteria for analyses as outlined in the test information sheet.

Criteria for Determining Acceptance of Critical Specimens

Any critical specimen that does not meet the patient identifier acceptance criteria (e.g. missing, incomplete or conflicting identifiers on the specimen and/or requisition) will require a signed waiver by the submitting health care provider in order for the specimen to be processed and reported. Otherwise, tests will be cancelled.

Verbal Requests for Additional Tests

No additional test will be added to previously submitted specimens except under exceptional circumstances. If additional tests are required, please submit a new specimen with an appropriately completed Public Health Ontario Test Requisition form.


Environmental Samples:

Public Health Ontario’s laboratory only performs environmental tests as described in the Public Health Inspector’s Guide to Environmental Microbiology Laboratory Testing.

Who can Submit:

Official Agencies - as described in the Public Health Inspector’s Guide to Environmental Microbiology Laboratory Testing

Individuals who rely on drinking water from a privately owned water source - such as a well and other private drinking water systems (e.g., water from cisterns, treated lake water).  Refer to our Well Water Testing webpage for more details.

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Updated 22 June 2023