March 10, 2009
Dear THSteps DSHS Laboratory Submitter:
As a follow-up to the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) notification letter of February 19, 2009, we would like to remind you of the upcoming change in specimen acceptance/rejection criteria for specimens submitted for syphilis (RPR and TPPA), HIV and Hepatitis C testing.
Effective March 12, 2009, the DSHS laboratory will only accept serum specimens for these specific tests shipped cold and received within five calendar days of specimen collection. Please note, even if specimens are collected prior to March 12, only serum specimens will be accepted March 12.
Texas Health Steps providers have the option of using the laboratory of their choice, including the DSHS Laboratory, for these specific tests.
If you choose to send the specimens to a laboratory other than the DSHS Laboratory for these tests:
- Specimens may be sent to the Medicaid-participating laboratory of the provider's choice.
- The provider should follow the same laboratory procedures currently used for Medicaid acute care services and THSteps blood testing screening for hyperlipidemia or Type 2 diabetes.
- Laboratories that bill for these procedure codes on the same date of service as a medical checkup visit may be reimbursed separately.
If you choose to send the specimens to the DSHS Laboratory, serum specimens may be collected in one of two ways:
- The specimen may be collected in a red-top blood collection tube and centrifuged within two hours of collection. The serum must then be transferred into a transport tube and shipped cold overnight, on cold packs.
- The specimen may be collected in a serum separator tube (SST), centrifuged within two hours of collection, and the SST shipped overnight cold, on cold packs.
DSHS has also developed more detailed information and training information for handling these specimens. This information may be found on the DSHS Website at: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/lab/serumSpecimenCriteria.shtm.
DSHS Laboratory staff is working with providers to assure they have the needed supplies for this transition. A two-month supply of specimen collection supplies was shipped to each provider on March 3, 2009, based on the numbers of specimens submitted in the past year.
If you have not received supplies and intend to continue using the DSHS Laboratory for these specific tests, or if you have any additional questions, please contact Susan Hoffpauir at (888) 963-7111 x 6030 or by email at LabInfo.
Susan U. Neill, PhD, MBA
Director, Laboratory Services Section