Recommendations regarding the use of pneumatic tubes

In the light of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, NSW Health Pathology (NSWHP) has reviewed the use of pneumatic tubes for the transport of patient samples between NSW public hospitals and NSW Health Pathology’s on-site laboratories.

Pneumatic tubes, properly used and maintained, remain safe for the carriage of ALL blood samples requiring transport between NSW public hospitals and on-site NSW Health Pathology labs.

Continued use of the pneumatic tube for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients

Blood samples collected from a patient who is a strongly suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 can be sent via the pneumatic tube in blood tubes in line with standard practice.

This is a respiratory virus spread and acquired by the respiratory route. It is not a blood borne virus.

Cessation of pneumatic tubes for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients

In line with the latest infection prevention and control guidance from the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), NSWHP strongly recommends pneumatic tube not be used for the following samples from patient strongly suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19:
  • swabs for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and respiratory virus testing
  • other respiratory specimens
  • other body fluids (due to poor container sealing issues)
This is to avoid the possibility of leakage in the pneumatic tube, which would then require decommissioning and cleaning before being returned to service.

These samples should be securely packaged up and hand delivered to the on-site NSW Health Pathology laboratory central specimen reception.

Questions or more information

Should you require any further information, please contact your local NSWHP Laboratory Manager or Local Pathology Director.​

Document information

Developed by
  • NSW Health Pathology​
  • Dr Rob Lindeman, Executive Director of Clinical Operations NSWHP
  • Dr Michael Whiley, Executive Director of Medical Workforce NSWHP and COVID-19 IMT Executive Sponsor of Planning
  • Dr Roger Wilson, Executive Director Clinical Governance and Quality/Chief Pathologist of NSWHP and Clinical Lead NSW Health Pathology CoVID-19 Clinical Community of Practice​
Review date
  • Two weekly​
Reviewed by
  • NSWHP Emergency Operations Centre Incident Controller
For use by
  • ​​Clinical staff working in areas with access to a pneumatic tube specimen transport system.
Current as at: Tuesday 21 April 2020
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW