The concern: labeling errors
Hand labeling creates the potential for errors that can occur at a number of touch points in the pathology lab as a patient's tissue biopsy is processed.
Errors can include:
- Cassette and slide labels that don't match the requisition form
- Tissue placed in incorrectly labeled cassettes
- Smudged/unreadable handwriting on slides and cassettes
- Pre-labeled or re-labeled slides that result in the wrong patient tissue on a slide
In some cases, these types of errors are caught and corrected within the pathology lab. In other cases, mislabeling errors can leave the lab unnoticed.
Nakhleh et al.2, quantified "mislabeling rates across 136 institutions of cases (0.11%), specimens (0.1%), blocks (0.17%), and slides (0.11%). Errors in labeling appear nearly equally throughout the system of accessioning, gross pathology processing, and tissue cutting. Errors are typically detected in the immediate steps after the errors occurred, reinforcing the need for quality checks throughout the system."
The solution: automated labeling and integrated systems
By reducing the potential for human error, automated labeling protects the integrity of patient samples. Each cassette and slide is given a barcode that, when scanned, tells the histotechnologist which patient the sample belongs to. Ultimately, this means pathologists can be more confident in making the right diagnosis for their patient.
2: Raouf E. Nakhleh, Michael O. Idowu, Rhona J. Souers, Frederick A. Meier, Leonas G. Bekeris, (2011) Mislabeling of Cases, Specimens, Blocks, and Slides: A College of American Pathologists Study of 136 Institutions. Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine: August 2011, Vol. 135, No. 8, pp. 969-974.