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Diagnostic Labs FAQ

Commonly asked questions about Diagnostic Lab tests and procedures.

Client Services

Email 800-245-3117 x 6250 Request Information Online Ordering Accreditations & Licenses


  • What are the Diagnostic Lab Hours?

    Monday - Friday: 7:00 a.m. -- 6:00 p.m. CST
    Saturday: 8:00 a.m. -- 4:30 p.m. CST

    After hours email or call (800) 245-3117 x6250 and leave a message.
    For local sample pick up or urgent testing needs, call (800) 245-3117 x6250 and select an option.


  • What are the basic shipping requirements for samples?

    Diagnostic samples and/or infectious substances must be packaged in compliance with Department of Transportation (DOT), International Air Transport Association (IATA), and the specific requirements of the overnight carrier used.

  • What are the specific requirements for frozen samples?

    Frozen samples should be shipped on a minimum of 5 pounds of dry ice. Use only plastic tubes and cushion them to protect from breakage during shipment. Please be aware that dry ice is also considered a hazard for shipping and must be packaged in compliance with DOT, IATA, and the requirements of the overnight carrier used.

  • What are the specific requirements for refrigerated samples?

    Refrigerated samples should be shipped on ice packs. Protect samples from freezing by wrapping them in paper toweling.

  • Can I ship samples any day of the week?

    No. Samples should not be shipped on Saturday or the day before a holiday to ensure viability of the sample. If special circumstances arise, contact Client Services at (800) 245-3117 ext 6250.

    Please note Client Services is closed on Sundays and the following dates in observance of national holidays. We cannot accept samples on these days.

    • May 28, 2018 (Monday)
    • July 4, 2018 (Wednesday)
    • September 3, 2018 (Monday)
    • November 22, 2018 (Thursday)
    • December 25, 2018 (Tuesday)
    • January 1, 2019 (Tuesday)
  • Where should I send the samples?

    Client Services/Name of Laboratory
    BloodCenter of Wisconsin
    638 N. 18th Street
    Milwaukee, WI 53233-2121

  • Is there phone number for sample management?

    Yes. (800) 245-3117 ext 6250


  • Can a patient directly pay for a test?

    If BloodCenter of Wisconsin does not contract with your facility or the patient’s insurer for laboratory testing services, we can offer the option for your patient to pay directly for laboratory testing. We will accept a check, money order, VISA or MasterCard as advance payment. A paid invoice will be issued to the patient when the testing is completed. If testing is canceled prior to performance, BloodCenter of Wisconsin will issue a refund to the patient.

    Important Information for Private Pay Patients

    If your current healthcare provider does not have a service contract with BloodCenter of Wisconsin, you may be required to pay out-of-pocket for laboratory testing services. This means that you, not your health insurer, will pay BloodCenter for the services.

    Before you agree to pay for laboratory testing services, it is very important that you understand that your health insurance company may not reimburse you at all, or may only reimburse you a fraction of the amount you pay to BloodCenter.

    If you have health insurance, typically your insurance provider will pay for services you receive from certain providers that are within the insurer’s network. These providers are usually called “in-network providers”. Your insurance plan may also offer some coverage for services that you receive from “out-of-network providers” such as BloodCenter. Out-of-network providers usually do not have contracts with your insurance company and therefore do not submit bills directly to your insurance company. This means that you must pay the BloodCenter directly, and then ask your insurance company to pay you back. Depending on what your insurance policy says, your insurance company may not pay you back, or may only pay you back a small percentage of what you paid to BloodCenter.

    Please click the link here for additional information.


    If your insurer is Tricare and you are a member of the military, please click here.

    International Customers

    International customers may contact BloodCenter via phone or email to obtain wire transfer documents to utilize credit card payments.

  • Does BloodCenter of Wisconsin do Third-Party Billing?
    BloodCenter of Wisconsin does not bill insurers or other third party payers except as noted below. The institution submitting the specimen for testing is responsible for payment.
  • How do you handle Medicaid and Medicare patients?

    BloodCenter of Wisconsin bills the referring institution unless the patient is an outpatient Medicare enrollee or a Medicaid recipient from Wisconsin. If applicable, please complete the Medicare section on the back of the requisition.

  • What are your payment terms?

    BloodCenter of Wisconsin’s standard payment terms are that payment is due upon invoice receipt.

  • When are invoices sent?

    Invoices are issued on a weekly basis and are sent when a test has been completed. The institution referring the specimen is responsible for payment. Please submit all information for payment, including a purchase order number if required and billing address, on the requisition that is sent with the sample.

Results & Reports

  • Can I cancel a test?

    Tests and panels can be canceled without charge if the notification is received before the sample has been processed. Please call Client Services at 800-245-3117, ext. 6250 to cancel an order. A final report will be issued to reflect the cancellation of the order.

  • Does Diagnostic Laboratories do STAT Testing?

    STAT testing is available for many of our assays. Some STAT tests require the approval of the laboratory director. Client Services or the appropriate laboratory will be able to advise you if STAT testing is available and what STAT charges will be applied.

  • How do I get the final test results?

    Final test results are routinely sent to the referring institution by fax when all tests on a sample have been completed. This report includes interpretation of all test results. A complete interpretation of results is dependent on the clinical history that you include on the requisition. 

    We now offer secure email as an option for receiving patient results. Please contact our Client Services team for further details. 

    Test results are also available online. Contact Client Services to enroll in Labtest, our online ordering and results viewing system. 

    Your laboratory or physicians may choose to receive results by mail. Please contact Client Services at (800) 245-3117, ext. 6250 to request this service.

  • What are CPT Codes?

    CPT codes listed reflect the testing performed on each sample and are intended as a guide for your internal billing procedures. Be sure to review our recommended CPT codes with your insurance and state carriers. CPT codes listed in our directory of services reflect our interpretation of the AMA CPT code handbook.

  • What if I would like to receive interim test results?

    Some test results are available as interim reports. This includes individual tests which are resulted while other tests are in progress. Interpretation of results will be included only on the final report. Please contact Client Services if you would like to receive interim results.

Unacceptable Samples

  • How will I know if my specimen was rejected?

    We will notify you by phone and issue a report outlining reason for rejection if a sample is considered unacceptable for testing.

  • What are some of the more common causes of unacceptable specimens?

    Sample integrity is crucial to accurate test results. Samples can be compromised due to conditions during collection, storage, or transportation. The most frequent causes of unacceptable samples are hemolysis, inappropriate transport temperature, incorrect sample type and sample age. If a sample is unacceptable for testing, you will be notified by telephone. A report will be issued documenting that the sample was rejected. In some instances testing will be performed on a suboptimal sample after consultation with you.

  • What is considered an unacceptable specimen?

    Proper identification of specimens is essential to providing accurate laboratory results for the correct patient. The laboratory cannot accept unlabeled specimens, even when accompanied by paperwork bearing the patient's name. Incomplete or inaccurately labeled specimens will be evaluated to determine whether acceptable identification can be made and a report issued.


Hemostasis Processing

  • How long does the laboratory retain samples?

    The Hemostasis Reference Laboratory retains samples for 2 months following testing. Please call if additional testing is needed to determine if stored aliquots are available for additional testing.

    Portions of the above procedures are reproduced with permission, from Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (Formerly NCCLS) publication H2-A4-Collection, Transport, and Processing of Blood specimens for Testing Plasma-Based Coagulation Assays; Approved Guideline-Fourth Addition (ISBN 1-56238-521-6). Copies of the current edition may be obtained from Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute, 940 West Valley Road, Suite 1400, Wayne, Pennsylvania 19087-1898, USA.

  • Is there an example to show the amounts of anticoagulant?

    If Hct=58%, put 0.80 ml of anticoagulant into a plastic tube, draw blood and put 9.2 ml into tube for total sample volume of 10 ml. Or, fill syringe with 0.80 ml of anticoagulant and draw blood to 10 ml mark.

  • Is there specific information to determine the amounts of anticoagulant?

    Yes. See the Hemostasis Anticoagulant chart below:

    ml of citrate for:
    Hct%     5 ml Sample 10 ml Sample
    10-14     0.75 1.5
    15-19     0.70 1.4
    20-55     0.50 1.0
    56-58     0.40 0.80
    59-61     0.37 0.75
    62-64     0.35 0.70
    65-67     0.32 0.65
    68-70     0.30 0.60
  • What are the exact steps for hemostasis processing?

    To obtain a plasma sample, the capped specimen tube should be centrifuged at a speed and time required to consistently produce platelet-poor plasma with a platelet count <10 x 109/L(10,000/uL). This may be accomplished by centrifuging at 1,500 g for no less than 15 minutes at room temperature. If necessary, transfer plasma to a plastic tube and re-centrifuge to remove platelets. Removal of platelets before freezing is critical for the detection of lupus anticoagulants. Do not filter the plasma to remove platelets, as filtering removes high molecular weight von Willebrand factor.

     Using a plastic pipette, remove the top 2/3 of plasma, transfer to a labeled plastic tube and cap. Do not use glass tubes, as glass activates the hemostatic mechanism. Refer to individual test entries in the Test Catalog for sample volume, number of aliquots required and special instructions.

    • Freeze plasma within 4 hours of specimen collection.
    • Specimens stored at -80oC are stable for 1 year. 
    • Samples stored at -20oC are stable for 14 days.
    • Specimens must remain frozen during storage and shipment.
    • Ship on dry ice with guaranteed overnight delivery.
    • Refer to shipping instructions for more information.
    • Consumer-grade freezers that undergo freeze/thaw cycles are not acceptable. 
  • What are the guidelines for drawing samples?

    The anticoagulant used for coagulation assays should be 105 to 109 mMol/L, 3.13% to 3.2% (commonly described as 3.2%) of the dihydrate form of trisodium citrate (Na3C6H5O7 • 2H2O), buffered or nonbuffered (light blue top vacuum tube).

  • What are the guidelines when preparing a sample?

    We prefer that the first tube drawn not be utilized for hemostasis testing. The venipuncture must not be traumatic or slow flowing; avoid leaving the tourniquet on for an extended time. Allow evacuated tubes to fill by vacuum completely. Invert tubes gently at least 4 times to mix. Keep samples capped and process immediately. Whole blood specimens should be transported and kept at 18-24 co. (Transportation of whole blood specimens on ice is not recommended for most coagulation assays.) Centrifuge sample, remove plasma, and freeze within 4 hours from the time of specimen collection. Hemolyzed or clotted specimens are unacceptable.

  • What is the specific process for hemostasis specimen collection?

    Specimen collection, processing, storage and shipping are critical to obtain accurate results for hemostasis tests. Please follow these instructions for all tests requiring frozen citrated plasma for the Hemostasis Reference Laboratory. Please see individual test entries in the Test Catalog for specific requirements.

  • What should the Blood/Anticoagulant ratio be?

    The proportion of blood to the sodium citrate anticoagulant volume is 9:1. Inadequate filling of the collection tube will decrease this ratio, and may lead to inaccurate results. The final citrate concentration in the blood should be adjusted in patients who have hematocrit values above 55%. For hematocrits below 20%, there are no current data available to support a recommendation for adjusting the citrate concentration. 

Histocompatibility Samples

  • What are the requirements for histocompatibility samples?

    See the table below to find the typing and tube requirements for patients of a specific age.

    Patient Age Tube Type Typing To Be Performed
    0 - 1 year 3 cc in lavender top/4 buccal swabs
    2 cc in red top
    A, B, C, DP, DQ, DR low, int, or high resolution
    1 - 5 years 5 cc in lavender top/4 buccal swabs
    2 cc in red top
    A, B, C, DP, DQ, DR low, int, or high resolution
    5 - 10 years 7 cc in lavender top/4 buccal swabs  
    3 cc in red top
    A, B, C, DP, DQ, DR low, int, or high resolution
    > 10 years 14 cc in lavender top/4 buccal swabs
    5 cc in red top
    A, B, C, DP, DQ, DR low, int, or high resolution

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