Guide: Specimen Collection for Diagnostics

Guide: Specimen Collection for Diagnostics

A Complete Guide to Specimen Collection for Diagnostics

Following the right specimen collection procedures is critical. Not only does it protect healthcare professionals, laboratory staff, and the patient, it also ensures accuracy in diagnostic testing. For infectious diseases, it’s important to get specimen collection right on the first try. That’s why having the proper tools is essential.

When it comes to the swabs and vials used for collecting specimens for diagnostic testing, you have a lot of options. While traditional cotton tips may have been the go-to choice of yesteryear, today’s selections boast significant advancements and options tailored to your unique needs.
Indeed, modern-day swabs come with a number of features designed for ease of use. In this post, we’ll share a comprehensive overview of specimen collection kits as well as considerations to help you determine which option is best for your application.

Media Transport Swab Systems

In many healthcare settings, media transport systems are used. These systems can optimize the specimen collection process and make handling and transporting specimens safe and convenient. They are also designed to provide rapid release, and by integrating high-quality swabs into the system, you’ll receive the best level of elution.

UniTranz-RT Transport System: UT-302
Puritan UniTranz-RT ® Transport System: UT-302

One popular choice for transport media is the Puritan UniTranz-RT ®. It can be used to transport any virus, in addition to bacterial specimens such as Chlamydia and Ureaplasma. The universal transport liquid suspends the cells until processed. They can be purchased as vials of transport medium exclusively; or, for utmost convenience, you can also choose different tipped applicators to complete the system.

Puritan Opti-Swab Mini-Tip Swab with Liquid Amies: LA-116
Puritan Opti-Swab Mini-Tip Swab with Liquid Amies: LA-116

For fastidious and both anaerobic and aerobic bacteria, the Opti-Swab ® transport system is an ideal choice. The liquid amies suspends the cells until processed. It protects the viable bacteria specimens during lab transport and employs flocked or rayon swabs for effective specimen collection.

For certain types of microorganisms, enrichment media are needed to create ideal environments. By adding enrichment media, you’ll promote the development of the particular microorganism for which your testing while also limiting the growth of others. Staph organisms, for instance, require the specific liquid transport MRSA, due to its resistance to antimicrobials. Salmonella, on the other hand, can be enriched with selenite broth. LIM broth is used as an enrichment media for Group B Strep in pregnant women.

In comparison to media transport swabs, there are also Dry Transport Swab systems to consider. Dry transport swabs can be used in general-purpose cell collection and transport to the lab, testing, screening, and DNA testing.

Puritan Cell Collection Polyester Swab: 25-806-2PD-TT
Puritan Dry Transport Cell Collection Polyester Swab: 25-806-2PD-TT

As you can see, there are various types of systems available for the collection and transport of specimens, many of which are designed specifically for one type or group of of bacteria or viruses. While it’s helpful to know what you’re testing for in order to determine the best type of collection kit to use, it’s also beneficial to consider the place from which you’re collecting specimens on the patient. We’ll discuss these considerations below.

 

Considerations By Application

For certain types of specimen collection, proper practices are mandated by the CDC. For instance, to collect upper respiratory tract specimens, it is recommended by the CDC that collectors use flocked swabs to collect specimens from the tonsil and nasal areas. To avoid inactivation of certain viruses or inhibition of molecular assays, it’s recommended that users do not select wooden-shaft swabs for this application, as the wood could compromise the specimens. Additionally, sterile rayon swabs or sterile polyester swabs are recommended.

Once collection of upper respiratory tract specimens has been completed, swabs must be immediately placed into vials with non-antibiotic transport media. There are additional steps outlined by the CDC for the process, including the use of both oropharyngeal and nasopharyngeal swabs. Nasopharyngeal swabs are also used to test for conditions such as whooping cough and certain types of flu.

HydraFlock® Flocked Sterile Swab, Mini Tip with Transport Tube: 25-3316-H-EMB-100-BT
Great as nasopharyngeal swab: HydraFlock® Flocked Sterile Swab, Mini Tip with Transport Tube: 25-3316-H-EMB-100-BT

Of course, the nose and throat aren’t the only sites for specimen collection. For any area of the body, patient sensitivity should be considered to help determine which swab and collection products to use.

For instance, rectal cultures can be obtained to identify types of bacteria indicating gastrointestinal diseases, but because of the levels of sensitivity, the gentlest swabs possible should be used to collect samples from this region. Likewise, specimens from genitalia, orifices, and any other sensitive areas should be collected using swabs that will minimize discomfort. Calcium Alginate Swabs are also a good choice, since any residual trace fiber left will safely dissolve.

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Nasopharyngeal Tip Swab: 25-800-A-50
Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Nasopharyngeal Tip Swab: 25-800-A-50

Luckily, there is a vast number of options available for specimen collection and transport to keep patients safe and comfortable while also preserving the integrity of the sample. By weighing the considerations listed here, you can identify the best types of swabs, vials, and complete transport kits to best meet your needs. Harmony Business Supply has an extensive range of products available to choose from, which you can view online. If you’d like additional assistance deciding on the best option for your application, feel free to consult with one of our product specialists.

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Swabs

1.     Homely Inspiration

The inventor of the modern cotton swab, Polish inventor Leo Gerstenzang, was inspired at home when he saw his wife sticking cotton balls onto the ends of toothpicks, and using this tool to clean out their child’s ears. Can you imagine doing that now? The original target audience for this new product was babies, and Q-Tips were first called “Baby Gays”.

2.     Boric Acid Baths

Original cotton Q-Tips were dipped in boric acid in the factory, as an idea to promote them as personal hygiene instruments. Boric acid has anti-viral and anti-fungal properties and sterilized the swabs.

3.     Stuck on Wood

Cotton swabs were made exclusively with wooden shafts until 1958. The company bought another company that made paper sticks for candy, and used the paper shafts in their swabs. Now, swabs are made with various shaft materials, including polypropylene shaft swabs, paper shaft swabs, aluminum shaft swabs, and others.

4.     Swabbing Sailors

A swab is a piece of absorbent material on end of a shaft/stick.

Did you know the word swab comes from the 17th mid-century “swabber”, in the sense of a sailor swabbing the deck of a ship. Why did they even swab the decks? Well, loose gun powder on gun-decks (cannons!) was a significant fire hazard. Swabbing the decks with a mop (swab) dampened the powder and reduced fire risk. Regular maintenance of the decks also slowed decomposition and gave sailors something to do. (Idle hands lead to mutiny!)

5.     All Ears (But Not Really)

Cotton swabs are widely known for being used to clean out ears. However, using swabs to clean the INSIDE of your ears can actually have an opposite and detrimental effect. Improper usage can lead to compacting wax or damaging sensitive ear organs caused by pushing the swab into the ear too far. Be cautious when using swabs to clean out ears.

 

Nowadays swabs are super useful across many different fields! Swabs of various kinds are used in critical environment manufacturing, diagnostics, environmental surface sampling, food safety testing, forensics, healthcare, and pharmaceutical applications.

Modern swabs are made tough to scrub hard to reach places, or soft and gentle for use in electronics or sensitive components. Hopefully you learned something new about swabs (who knew!), and whatever your application is, we have the swab for the job.

Cosmetic Swabs: Beauty Tips for Salons and Spas

Cosmetic Swabs: Beauty Tips for Salons and Spas

Harmony offers the best quality and selection of swabs and applicators for use in Spas, Salons, and so much more!

We’ve chosen to supply primarily Puritan Medical swabs and applicators due to their supreme quality and value.

Puritan produces high-quality swabs and other single-use products for industries such as healthcare, forensics, and food safety. These products are medical-grade swabs with fantastic beauty and wellness applications too. From cotton swabs to cuticle sticks, Harmony and Puritan Medical can help spa and salon owners keep clients looking their best.

Spring is around the corner and there’s going to be lots of events like vacations, proms, weddings – people need to be photo ready!

Here are some great beauty tips, advice, and tricks made possible by high quality cosmetic swabs and applicators.

Special Swabs for Cosmetics

Cutting-edge technology has been used to produce high-quality cotton swabs which are almost enough on their own to perform every part of a beauty routine. From facials to pedicures, Puritan Swabs from Harmony are highly resourceful as a tool used in a wide range of beauty and salon services.

Here’s some great ways to use swabs for beauty!

Face

  1. Use a swab to precisely cover a blemish with just enough concealer.
  2. Target dark spots with brightening cream in the same manner.

Lips

  1. Use a swab to get every last bit of lipstick out of the tube before tossing it.
  2. Lip-gloss comes in a pot right? So keep your fingers clean by applying with a cotton swab.
  3. Don’t let bright lipsticks or stains bleed outside your clients’ lip line. With a swab, you can trace her pout with powder to keep lip color in place.

Eyes

  1. Avoid sticky fingers when applying eyelash glue to false eyelashes by using cotton swab to disperse the glue.
  2. Use a swab to dot concealer on undereye circles, then blend.
  3. Cotton swabs are the perfect tool for smudging or cleaning up eyeliner.

Nails

  1. Embellish nails by using a swab to create designs (adorable polka dots!) or add decorations.
  2. The pointed cotton tip on our tapered swabs can clean up the messiest manicure or pedicure.
  3. Cleaning bottle necks with swabs dipped in nail polish remover keeps polishes from getting stuck shut.

The Perfect Cosmetic Swabs:

Bonus TIP: Seal swabs covered in concealer or perfume in small storage bags and tuck them into your purse. You’ll be able to touch up your makeup or reapply your favorite scent while at a wedding or during a long flight.

Wooden Tongue Depressors (AKA Wax Applicators)

Isn’t it amazing how much better you feel after an eyebrow wax? Well, our tongue depressors were actually designed to apply wax too! The wood has a smooth polish, and with two different sizes, the sticks can be used on multiple areas of the body.

The Perfect Wax Applicators:

Cuticle Sticks (AKA Orange Wood Sticks)

Keeping nails clean is good for hygiene and for first impressions. We offer cuticle sticks with beveled ends that are just the right tool for pushing cuticles back into place. Our single bevel sticks with pointed ends can clean out dirt and other built up grime. Whether thanking an instructor for vacation surfing lessons or meeting a cousin’s new boyfriend at a family gathering, your clients will confidently extend their hands knowing they look great!

The Perfect Cuticle Sticks:

You can trust our swabs and applicators to perform the best, no matter your usage!

Feel great, look great, and enjoy a moment of Harmony with Puritan Medical Swabs and Applicators.

Harmony Business Supplies