Expanding Your Courier Business: Medical Specimen Delivery

For delivery businesses looking to maximise profits by specialising in a niche market, medical specimen delivery can be one of most lucrative. It’s not simply a matter of taking out a paint pot and adding an adjunct to the side of the van, however, because the logistics of this kind of courier work require some very specific skills and knowledge.

While many of the safety aspects of keeping critical medical specimens safe are taken care of during their packaging, if you’re considering taking on this kind of courier work you’ll need to undertake some specialised training and acquire some specialised equipment. While this is by no means exhaustive, here is a brief overview of the kind of things you’ll need to understand.

Temperature Classifications

Specimens come under a strict range of classifications – from room temperature to frozen. The specimens must be kept at the prescribed temperature for the duration of the journey.

Frozen: -20°C or below
Refrigerated: (2 to 10°C)
Room temperature: (15 – 30°C)

Packaging Guidelines

Packaging is not generally the remit of the driver, but it’s still important to understand the minimum requirements for preparing medical specimens for transport.
•All lids, caps and seals should be intact and tightly closed.
•Samples should be accompanied by a completed requisition form, with all relevant details: sender, receiver, number of samples.
•All packaging should be clearly labelled with all details visible to lab technicians and other staff (requisition form and sample in separate pouches of transport bag).

Check and Double Check: Driver’s Responsibility

The driver does, however, have an onus of responsibility to check the specimens before signing them out. Aspects to check relate directly to the packing requirements above and drivers should ensure that:
•All bottles, bags and containers are tightly sealed and there is no visible leakage.
•Specimens are clearly and correctly labelled and accompanied by a completed requisition form.
•All items are kept in an upright position in the van.

Specialised Medical Transport Coolers

In order to take on this kind of critical courier work, drivers need to be in possession of approved medical transport coolers. There are various coolers required for different stages of the transportation, depending on the temperature classifications.

One kind is required for getting the sample from its origin to the vehicle, then various versions are needed for frozen, refrigerated or room temperature classified items. Along with multiple coolers, other things used to ensure the integrity of the samples may include dry ice transportation bottles and gel packets.
Drivers also need to make sure any receptacles for transporting the samples are not kept in the boot (as they can retain heat and render them ineffective) and that they’re strapped in, so they don’t move around in the back of the van.

While it may sound like it takes a lot of effort and considerable investment to be able to take on this kind of courier work, once the basic resources and knowledge are in place, it can be a very profitable field to enter.

Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier work in the express freight exchange industry. Over 5,400 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships. 

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