The concern: cross contamination
In many labs today, the primary staining process is completed manually through "dipping and dunking" slides into shared reagent baths.
The potential for cross contamination presents itself at multiple points in the process:
- Tissue can detach from a slide inside the reagent bath
- Extraneous tissue floating in the reagent bath can re-attach to another patient's slide
- On one slide, two patients' tissue can coexist
Sometimes, cross contamination is something a pathologist can "read through" or detect on his/her own because of obvious differences in tissue structure. Other times, the tissue fragments are too similar to tell the difference.
"Because of the diagnostic issues that contaminants can cause, the AP laboratory has a responsibility to reduce potential for error in every way possible."
-Eric Platt, et al.
"Tissue Floaters and Contaminants in the Histology Laboratory" 3
The solution: automated, individualized staining
Tissue contamination has been a long-time challenge in the anatomic pathology lab and, until recently, it was widely accepted as a part of the process. But it doesn't have to stay that way.
Automated, individualized staining greatly reduces the potential for cross contamination between slides and allows for better quality and consistency in comparison to what a lab can achieve with manual "dip and dunk" processes.
3: Platt, Eric, et al. "Tissue Floaters and Contaminants in the Histology Laboratory." Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2009 Vol. 133.