Laboratory Operations

Non-technical laboratory functions are performed by several specialized units that comprise Laboratory Support Services. 

Support Services provide the support necessary to enable the Georgia Public Health Laboratory to perform the testing that it does.  It is responsible for the pre- and post-analytical processes for specimen testing and reporting, and it acquires and warehouses the supplies needed.  

Components of the Georgia Public Health Laboratory Support Services Unit include:

  • Billing

    Laboratory Billing prepares and mails invoices for infectious disease and newborn metabolic screening tests, and is part of the Department of Public Health Finance Division.  

    Effective April 1, 2010 the fee schedule at the Georgia Public Health Laboratory was revised for infectious disease tests.

    As of November 1, 2011, a late interest charge of 1.5% per month will be charged on unpaid balances over thirty (30) days old as per O.C.G.A. Section 7-4-161.

    Contact: 404-566-6310

  • Central Accessioning (CA)

    With few exceptions, specimens sent to the Public Health Laboratory are received in the Central Accessioning area.  Packages are opened and each specimen is assigned a unique accession number. The patient’s demographic information and requested tests are entered into the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) either manually or electronically.

    CA consists of two sections:

    • Microbiology Accessioning and
    • Newborn Screening Accessioning (Decatur Lab Only).

    In each section, specimens are opened, sorted and the patient demographics and requested tests are entered into the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS).

    Two types of submissions are accepted.

    1. Submissions with paper requisitions are given a unique accession number and a barcode label is affixed to both the specimen and the submission form that accompanies the specimen.
    2. Submissions received electronically are assigned a unique accession number upon creation of the order in the ordering system used by the submitter. 

    GPHL date stamps all specimens the day they are received. CA staff verify that a name or a unique identifier on the specimen matches the submission form.  

    It is critically important that all the information on the submission form is complete and legible, and that the data on the submission form is an exact match of the data on the specimen. Data on the specimen must consist of at least two unique identifiers.  If the information does not match, or if it is missing, the specimen is not delivered to the laboratory for testing and a report of “unsatisfactory” is sent to the submitter. 

    Customers are strongly encouraged to include a specimen manifest with every shipment that includes multiple specimens.  This allows CA staff to identify discrepancies quickly so they can notify the submitter of any missing or additional specimens in the shipper.  It is important to remember that proof of delivery provided by UPS, the USPS, or private couriers, only documents that a package has arrived, it does not account for the contents of that box. 

    The two regional laboratories have accessioning areas arranged to meet their specific requirements. 

    For information concerning the receipt of specimens, or accessioning information, please contact:

    •  Decatur Laboratory          
      • 404-327-2290 for Microbiology    
      • 404-327-7931 for Biological Threat
      • 404-321-2259 for Chemical Threat                            
      • 404-321-2282 for Newborn Screens
    • Waycross Laboratory        
      • 912-338-7050
  • Laboratory Services and Supply

    This unit provides purchasing services for the Laboratory and facilitates the administration of equipment maintenance and agency contracts.  It also includes warehouse operations, shipping & receiving, outfit room, and courier services for outbound deliveries. 


    Purchasing of laboratory testing materials, reagents, services and equipment used at both Decatur and Waycross Public Health Laboratories.  

    Shipping & Receiving

    Responsible for receiving and delivering specimens to CA. 

    Courier Services

    Provides courier services for the Decatur facility. This service is for deliveries between the laboratory and the state office and for other outbound deliveries. The Laboratory currently provides specimen pick-up service for our submitters. To obtain courier services complete the form using the following:

    Outfit Room

    The “Outfit Room” recycles used specimen shippers that have been sterilized and refurbishes them so that they may be used again.  Specimen collection outfits are also provided upon request to submitters. Submitters request specimen collection outfits using the specimen collection outfit order form.                                                                                 

    For more information on Purchasing, Courier Services, Outfitting or Shipping & Receiving, please contact:

    • Purchasing: 470-763-8170
    • Outfitting: 404-327-7928
    • Courier:  [email protected]                      
  • Reports and Records

    This office distributes laboratory test reports electronically, by U.S. Mail and courier services (when provided by submitters).  Electronic copies of reports are kept on file for reference in accordance with record retention schedules that are coordinated through DPH. 

    The Reports and Records Units at the Georgia Public Health Laboratories in Decatur and Waycross perform three essential functions: 

    • Generating laboratory test result reports in electronic and paper formats.
    • Maintaining laboratory records and statistical data.
    • Providing customer service to clinicians, hospitals, and Public Health officials regarding test results.  

    Each GPHL location produces its own laboratory test reports.  Questions regarding reports should be directed to the location that performed the testing. 

    The Reports and Records Unit in the Decatur Laboratory reports laboratory findings for most of the tests performed at this location.  To inquire about the status of a particular specimen, please contact the Reports and Records Unit at 404-321-2241.  If testing has not been completed and reported, or if you have technical questions regarding the test, your call will be referred to the testing unit for further information.    

    NOTE: Test results will be provided only to the official submitter of record; we cannot release results to the patient or other health care provider that was not the original submitter, with or without the patient’s permission. 

    Laboratory test records are retained by the Georgia Public Health Laboratory for two years and are then destroyed.  The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires that paper records be cross-cut shredded to ensure complete privacy. Electronic records are purged from the LIMS.  

    For additional information about Reports and Records, please contact: 

    • Decatur Laboratory: 404-321-2241
    • Waycross Laboratory: 912-338-7050

The Support Services Unit’s goal is to provide the administrative support necessary to its internal and external customers to ensure the efficient and effective delivery of laboratory services to the residents of Georgia.