Skip to content

< Back

Pathology sample management

How GS1 standards improve loan stock management


Pathology is a critical service within the NHS. Around 95% of clinical pathways rely on patients having access to efficient, timely and cost effective pathology services. Pathology impacts all patients from before they are born to after they die.

The demand on pathology is accelerating due to an ageing population, the shift towards personalised medicine and advances in genomics and metabolomics that is increasing the demand on pathology for predictive and preventative investigations.

GS1 standards are used to accurately track samples from the patient to laboratory, reducing the incidence of lost samples and helping to make results available in real-time. Through scanning each barcoded sample along with the GS1 location identifier, progress can be recorded through to use in patient diagnosis.

The benefits

  • Better identification and management of pathology samples
  • Better workflows between wards and labs
  • Better treatment planning
  • Faster service to patients and clinicians
  • Reduced rejection rates due to poor labelling
  • Reduced errors during data entry

What an efficient pathology sample management process looks like

  1. Unique GS1 numbers and barcodes are used to identify all elements of the pathology process – the sample carrier, locations, staff and patients. If appropriate, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags can be considered, particularly for samples that need to be stored for a number of years and found at intervals
  2. Paper records, writing labels and manual data inputting are all replaced by using barcode or RFID scanners which update relevant systems such as LIMS automatically
  3. As a sample moves through a workflow, its unique number is read using a scanner and a real-time audit trail created. This is accessible by clinical staff to align care delivery with expected sample reporting
  4. All events that affect a sample such as the person picking it up, taking it or dropping it off at the lab are recorded, including every location. This enables tracking of responsibility and follow-up if required. This is particularly important when looking at samples moving between path labs for specialist testing
Help and support

If you have any questions, need some advice about implementing GS1 standards or want to find an accredited GS1 UK solution provider, we’re happy to help. Don’t forget to check out our case studies too. 

Contact us at or call 0808 172 8390.

The Management of Pathology using GS1 Standards

Pathology sample management

Commissioned by the Health and Social Care Information Centre in order to show how GS1 standards could be used to improve the management of Pathology within the NHS

CPE portal

The NHS Centre for Procurement Efficiency site