Geisinger Medical Laboratories Microbiology Specimen Collection Instructions



Pneumonia, bronchopneumonia, necrotizing pneumonia, lung abscess or cavitary lesions, interstitial infiltrates.


  1. Sputum collection device or sterile specimen cup.
  2. Glass of water.


  1. Collect sputum specimen as soon as possible after waking in the morning.
  2. Gargle with water immediately prior to obtaining a sputum specimen to reduce the number of oral bacteria. Do not use a mouthwash or any other gargle.
  3. Press the rim of the specimen container under the lower lip to catch all of the expectorated or coughed sputum.
  4. Cough deeply and expectorate sputum (not saliva) into the cup.
  5. Close the lid securely and notify your caregiver that your specimen is ready for transport to the laboratory.
  6. For acid-fast culture, three (3) specimens collected at a minimal interval of 8 to 24 hours, with one specimen being a first morning specimen, are recommended for adequate recovery.
  7. Transport the specimen to the Microbiology Laboratory at room temperature within 24 hours of collection for routine respiratory cultures (RESP). For other test requests, refer to specific test catalog instructions.

Reviewed:  1/11/2013












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