"Because of the nature of surgical pathology, there are multiple possibilities for error. You have a situation in which there are multiple handoffs of specimens from one person to anotherfrom the surgeon to the nurse, from the nurse probably to an aide who might bring the case to pathology, then to someone who cuts and labels, then to the pathologists."
Co-author of "Mislabeling Rate of Specimens, Blocks and Slides in Surgical Pathology"1
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.
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.
1Paxton, Anne. "Unmasking Specimen ID Errors, Every Step of the Way." CAP Today 2010.