We only receive diagnostic specimens from licensed veterinarians and research samples from universities, industry and government researchers.

Submission Forms

The appropriate diagnostic submissions form(s), must accompany each case. The form(s) must include the names of the referring veterinarian and the veterinary clinic, as well as the name of the owner. It must also include the patient’s data – including species, breed, age and sex, a concise clinical history and where possible a tentative diagnosis. Please type, print, or write clearly. Forms can be found on this website or directly from our laboratory.

We cannot process samples that have incomplete or inconsistent submission information and we are mandated to seek clarification from the submitter which will delay processing.

Reporting Results

Preliminary and Final reports in the form of a pdf file are automatically emailed as soon as the test is complete or faxed at 10:00am,12:00pm, 3:00 pm, 5:00pm and 7:00pm. Original copies of these reports will be kept on file in Diagnostic Services.

The veterinarian named on the submission form will receive the report. The laboratory will only forward results to another person/clinic upon the receipt of authorization in the form of a signed document from the submitting veterinarian. This form can be found by contacting the laboratory at (902)566-0860.

Electronic Access

Clients of Diagnostic Services also have access to viewing their results from their submissions through our web-based Diagnostic Results Viewer. Clinics will be assigned a unique Username by our administration to admit you this secure, password protected site.

Specimen Handling

  1. Specimens submitted to the University of Prince Edward Island become the property of the University of Prince Edward Island and will not be returned to the client unless pre- approval has been obtained.
  2. Proper handling of specimens from the time of collection until their reception in the laboratory is essential for optimal results. Please follow the instructions in the appropriate sections of this reference guide. Improperly packaged samples can result in damage during shipping creating hazards and may not be processed.
  3. Use the proper containers, supplies, etc. as indicated in the appropriate sections of the reference guide. Follow appropriate biosafety guidelines when packaging and shipping samples to the laboratory.
  4. Each specimen must be clearly labelled as to source (urine, serum, nasal swab, fecal, etc.) and individual animal identification.
  5. Please call the laboratory ahead of time if it is necessary to submit a large number of specimens and/or if a special test is required.

We cannot process samples that have incomplete or inconsistent submission information and we are mandated to seek clarification from the submitter which will delay processing.

Packaging & Shipping Laboratory Submissions – General Guidelines

  1. Collect the right specimens: The Fee Guide may provide adequate information but if you are in doubt please call the laboratory,
  2. DO:
    • Refer to specific discipline sections of this manual for detailed information regarding your diagnostic requirements.
    • Submit separate samples for each test (bacteriology, virology, etc.) in individually labelled containers. Ensure there is at least 1 identifier present on the sample container which matches that on the sample submission form (patient name, reference ID, etc.).
    • Submit tissues in separate, labelled, properly sealed non-leak new or clean containers. Choose non-leak containers and ensure that they are not cross threaded and leaking any fluids.
    • Separate serum from clot after clotting is complete and place in a labelled non- additive tube for shipment. Whole blood is required for some testing – please see the referral guide for specific test requirements.
    • We recommend that tubes are contained in Styrofoam tube boxes or in other suitable material to prevent breakage during shipping.
    • Bubble wrap is also recommended to provide additional cushioning.
    • Place sample submission form(s) in a separate plastic bag.
    • Place ice packs in a separate plastic bag or wrap in paper towel or newspaper.
  3. DO NOT:
    • Do not submit sample in rectal gloves.
    • Do not submit samples in syringes with needles.
    • Do not submit samples in glass containers.
    • Do not submit large volumes of formalin. (see page 11)
    • Do not ship perishable samples to arrive on holidays.
  4. Complete the sample submission form:
    • Information on species, breed, age, sex, morbidity, mortality, history and treatment is essential for interpretation.
    • Supply full name and address of clinic and veterinarian and owner or producer.
    • Please indicate if zoonotic disease,(i.e. rabies, leptospirosis,) is a consideration.
  5. Identify each specimen:
    • Give source (urine, serum, aspirate etc.)
    • Ensure there is at least 1 identifier present on the sample container which matches that on the sample submission form (patient name, reference ID, etc.).
    • Specify test requested on each container (urinalysis, culture, chemistry profile, etc.)
  6. Prepare for shipping:
    • Place samples in proper containers. Package carefully to prevent leakage. Contain the requisition sheet in a plastic bag to prevent moisture damage.
    • Use mailing containers that meet standards for Transportation of Dangerous Goods, Type IB packaging, https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/tdg/safety-menu.htm, which consists of watertight inner packaging surrounded by absorbent material, watertight secondary inner packaging and sturdy outer packaging (corrugated cardboard).
    • Frozen specimens: pack with gel-type ice packs. Wrap in 5-6 layers of absorbent paper and place inside an insulated container.
    • All biohazardous samples must be packaged in a new or disinfected suitable primary container which has been disinfected on the outside and then placed in a suitable secondary container with enough absorbent material, and the outside disinfected.
  7. Unsuitable specimens:
    • A specimen may not be accepted and/or processed if contamination of the packaging poses a risk to personnel or if the specimen is spoiled, contaminated, or inappropriate.
    • The consignor will be notified and fees will reflect administration and disposal of the specimen.
    • Formalin – see ensuing notes
  8. Multiple sample testing – Mammalian/Aquatic – Research or Diagnostic (Number of animals greater than 20)
    • Please make prior arrangements with laboratory for multiple sample submissions.
  9. Follow-up samples – Convalescent, re-submissions
    • When submitting additional samples, please reference the original Diagnostic Services Laboratory Number on a new sample submission form.

Delivery to Diagnostic Services

Local Veterinary practices

Local veterinary practices may deliver samples in person to the reception window of Diagnostic Services or to the Pathology and Post-Mortem Admitting office (located just inside Door 14 which is in the courtyard off of the perimeter road). Do not drop off samples at reception of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Outside Charlottetown

On-Island clinics (those that were grand-fathered into an existing agreement with McInnis Express) have specimens delivered morning or afternoon Monday to Friday.

The University of PEI Shipping and Receiving department receives specimens from most couriers from off-Island packages by mid-morning Monday to Friday. On Saturday packages from clinics in the Atlantic Provinces are delivered by Midland Courier only.

Midland Courier

Diagnostic Services negotiates special rates and arrangements with Midland Courier to deliver packages to our laboratory overnight from most locations in the Atlantic Provinces. The packages are typically delivered to the Atlantic Veterinary College by 8:30am, Monday through Saturday.

Please contact our laboratory to request Midland Service. You will then be directed to contact Midland Courier to be supplied with pre-printed labels for your clinic to include Clinic name, address and phone number and our delivery address. When preparing a shipment, complete the waybill by indicating how many packages are being sent, ground or air, and indicate Recipient billing. If you are shipping for Saturday delivery – please indicate this on your waybill as well. Diagnostics will invoice each collect waybill with your monthly bill. Courier prices for packages less than 10 pounds can be found in the Fee Schedule. Shipments that weigh more than 10 pounds will have an additional fee calculated.

Formalin notes and Specimen Container Recommendations

The health and safety of people involved in the transport and handling of samples received by Diagnostic Services is very important. Samples for histopathology are received daily by our laboratory, most of which are shipped in 10% formalin. There are many people who handle these samples from the time it leaves your clinic to when it arrives at Diagnostic Services. These include courier drivers, people at the courier sorting facility, the shipping/receiving clerks at the Atlantic Veterinary College and sample reception clerks and technologists in Diagnostic Services. Occasional samples in formalin solutions have been shipped in glass jars which break, plastic bags which split, loose topped urine collection bottles which crack, or containers with poor fitting or cross threading lids which leak. When sample containers of these types are used, leaks occur and expose all of the above to formalin.

There are many well documented adverse effects to formalin exposure in humans, including irritation to the eyes, respiratory tract and skin. Skin exposure can lead to local redness, tingling and skin sensitization with the possibility of an allergic reaction with subsequent exposure.

Symptoms involving the respiratory tract can include coughing, wheezing, burning pain of the nose and throat, shortness of breath and possibly pulmonary edema. Formalin is documented as a cancer causing agent, which is a concern with chronic exposure.

Samples from our courier arrive in a large bag. When there is a formalin leak, the formalin therefore spills over the other specimens shipped by many clinics. This can lead to damaged or unreadable submission forms and exposure to formalin fumes can adversely affect slide staining which can impact evaluation of blood smears and cytology specimens. How can you help? We are asking our clients to please use leak proof containers when shipping histology samples fixed in formalin. An example of an ideal container already used by some of our clients is LeakBuster™ Specimen Containers (StarplexR). These containers come in a variety of sizes and can be purchased from VWR or Fisher Canada.

Most of the samples submitted to our laboratory are packaged appropriately and we sincerely appreciate your diligence. However, to further minimize the risk of exposure to formalin by all those involved in the handling and shipping of samples, please evaluate the type of sample containers used by your clinic and ensure that proper packaging is used for shipping these samples.

If you have any questions concerning the packaging and shipping of samples, please do not hesitate to contact the staff at Diagnostic Services. We look forward to helping you.