RE: Cryostat knives

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From:"Tapper, Sheila" <>
To:'Vinnie Della Speranza' <>
Content-Type:text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1

Our cryostat has knife guards.  If you have them, it seems that you should
be able to inservice your staff on the use of the guards, and require that
the guards be used when the cryostat is idle.  This may prove to the safety
officer that you have the required safeguards to protect employees.  If your
cryostat is older, and has no knife guards, this may be your opportunity to
upgrade your equipment!  Safety compliance is always a good reason to step
outside of the budget to purchase new equipment!  Standard practice in the
histology lab is to keep the knife frozen in the chamber - ready to be used
at a moments notice.  This is required for good patient care.  You could
leave the knife in the chamber, in the "knife box" to keep it cool, but the
amount of handling that your safety officer is requesting has the potential
for more injury - the less the knife is handled, the better.  
With staffing so short - I think your safety officer is creating "busy" work
for you!  You may need to sit her down in the FS area, and let her observe
the frozen section process.  If you can show how effective the knife guards
can be at that time, she may be sold.  Perhaps you can somehow make her
understand that frozen sections are not a 9-5 specimen.  They occur 24
hours/day, 7 days/week.  If we could get patients to cooperate with the
timing of their emergent surgeries, it would really help staffing all

Unfortunately, my experience with safety officers is not good!  They seem to
be so sure of their solutions, regardless of their experience and knowledge
specific to histology, that they often look foolish.   

Good Luck, 

Sheila Tapper
Anatomic Pathology Team Leader
SMDC Health System
Duluth, MN

	-----Original Message-----
	From:	Vinnie Della Speranza []
	Sent:	Monday, June 26, 2000 12:09 PM
	Subject:	Cryostat knives

	in the aftermath of an employee injury, our safety officer is
insisting that we remove cryostat knives at the end of the shift (leaving no
blade in the cyrostat over night) and change blades in between patients. She
claims that failure to do so would be a violation of OSHA's requirements for
safe work practices. The employee nicked her thumb while tidying up the
interior of one of our units.

	We commonly juggle frozen section specimens from more than one
patient simulataneously. We are a busy facility with a very large transplant
program. It is not uncommon for pathologists to be called to do frozens at
odd hours, hence the need for a cold knife that is ready to go at all times.

	I would like to hear your thoughts on this matter and from
facilities who might be using practices similar to that being asked of us.


	Vinnie Della Speranza
	Manager for Anatomic Pathology Services
	Medical University of South Carolina
	165 Ashley Avenue
	Suite 309
	Charleston, SC  29425
	ph:  (843) 792-6353
	fax: (843) 792-8974

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