Specimen Collection Guidelines

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Urine Specimens

Mid-Stream Urine (MSU) Sample


  • Sterile plastic cup with lid (50ml or more)
  • Clean, screw-top specimen transport containers (“universal” containers are often used)
  • Gauze pads
  • Soap and clean water (or normal saline) if possible


Step Action
  • Give the patient clear instructions to pass urine for a few seconds, and then hold the cup in the urine stream for a few seconds to catch a mid-stream sample. This should decrease the risk of contamination from organisms living in the urethra
  • To decrease the risk of contamination from skin organisms, the patient should be directed to avoid touching the inside rim of the plastic cup with the skin of the hands, legs or external genitalia.
  • Tighten the cap firmly when finished.
  • For hospitalized or debilitated patients, it may be necessary to wash the external genitalia with soapy water to reduce the risk of contamination. If soap and clean water are not available, the area may be rinsed with normal saline.
  • Dry the area thoroughly with gauze pads before collecting the urine.
  • Urine collection bags may be necessary for infants. If used, transfer urine from the urine bag to specimen containers as soon as possible to prevent contamination with skin bacteria. Use a disposable transfer pipette to transfer the urine.
  • Label the specimen containers
  • Soap and clean water (or normal saline) if possible


  • Transport to the laboratory within 2-3 hours of collection. If this is not possible, do not freeze but keep the specimen refrigerated at 4-8oC.
  • Keeping the specimen refrigerated will decrease the risk of overgrowth of contaminating organisms
  • Ensure that transport containers are leak-proof and tightly sealed.