In March 2005 the requirements for packaging and shipping biologic material were significantly revised in response to the international community's desire to ensure safe and trouble-free shipment of infectious material while attempting to be more reasonable. Before this date, clinical specimens submitted for infectious disease diagnosis as well as isolates of any microotganism were considered an "infectious substance" and packaged and labeled under UN6.2 dangerous goods regulations. Now, only those category A organisms or specimens listed in Table 4-1 must be shipped as dangerous goods. The UN created a new category, UN3373, so that non-category A specimens or cultures can be packed and shipped as diagnostic or clinical specimens. In fact, the only category A infectious substance that most clinical laboratories would ship is a Mycobacterium tuberculosis culture. If the laboratory director is unsure whether a patient has symptoms of a category A agent it is prudent to ship the specimen as an infectious substance rather than a diagnostic specimen. Figure 4-14, A, shows triple packaging for both diagnostic/clinical or infectious substances in a pouch, and Figure 14-4, B, shows triple packaging for diagnostic, clinical or infectious substances in a rigid bottle.
Packaging must meet requirements of IATA (The International Air Transport Association) and IACO (International Civil Aviation Organization). Packaging instructions are available in the annual LATA regulations under 602 (dangerous goods) or 650 (patient or clinical specimens). All air and ground shippers such as the United States Postal Service (USPS), the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Express (Fed Ex) have adopted IATA standards.
"Raining in the proper packing and shipping of infectious material is a key feature of the regulations. Every institution that ships infectious materials, whether a hospital or POL (physidan office laboratory), is required to have appropriately trained individuals; training may be obtained through carriers, package manufacturers, arid spedal safety training organizations. The shipper is the individual (institution) who is ultimately responsible for safe and appropriate packaging. Any fines or penalties will be the shipper's responsibility.
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