Vaccine information, visitor restrictions, and additional resources | Medicaid: The program is changing and you must take steps to keep your UNC Health providers

Sputum Specimen Collection

Approximate 10% of sputum samples submitted for routine bacterial culture are rejected based on specimen quality. Specimen quality is determined based on the relative numbers of squamous epithelial cells to polymorphonuclear lymphocytes. The quality of sputum specimens for all types of culture (bacterial, fungal, mycobacterial) may be improved by using the following collection guidelines:

  1. If possible, have the patient rinse mouth and gargle with WATER prior to sputum collection (no chemical mouth washes/gargles)
  2. Instruct the patient NOT to expectorate saliva or postnasal discharge into the container
  3. Collect specimen resulting from DEEP COUGH in sterile screw-cap cup or other suitable sterile collection assembly.

Reviewed by jcayless on December 02, 2019

Note: Reference ranges provided on this web site are for guidance only, and may not reflect the most recent changes. Refer to laboratory reports for current reference data.

UNC Hospitals
McLendon Clinical Laboratories
101 Manning Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27514