RE: Work per hour

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From:"Saby, Joseph" <> (by way of histonet)
To:histonet <>
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When I worked in a hospital, that was what was expected of us.  We had a
"freezer table", which was an old freezer with the cooling coils
attached to a copper sheet on the top of a cart.  The embedder used an
old 60 cup coffee pot to dispense paraffin.  This was the only system
which was fast enough.

The embedder, a lab assistant, started at 5:30 and placed the filled
molds on the freezer table, exactly lining them up in order.  (Of course
that means that the person assisting at grossing had to have the blocks
able to be retrieved for embedding in order.)  At 6:00 the first
sectioner started and was expected to have the first 100 blocks cut by
7:00 when the #2 sectioner started.  We usually had about 235-250 blocks
a day, and they were ALL cut, extra levels, biopsies and all, before
8:30 am.

The slides were pre-labeled the night before by the person who helped
with the grossing. They were hung up in order on a wire stretched under
the cabinets in front of the sectioners.  There was a linear stainer
with a slide dryer on a counter just in front of the sectioners.  A
sectioner would grab a block off the freezer table right out of a mold
and put it in the microtome chuck.  Facing was very rough, slamming the
microtome handle back and cranking on the advance.  When the right level
was reached,  a ribbon was cranked out as fast as possible until the
facing holes were gone.  Then back off your blade a little, breath on
the block quickly, wipe your thumb over the block face and cut your
ribbon.  Grab the slide off the wire, scoop a section off the HOT water
bath, wipe extra water off the bottom of the slide (check tissue for
completeness and slide and block number)  and place slide on the

The third person came in at 7:00 as well.  This person would manually
coverslip the slides and lay out on racks.  The #1 sectioner would start
to check out the slides when done sectioning at 7:30 am.  This included
checking the slides against the list generated from the last evening's
grossing as well as the slides against the block faces and the numbers
on block and slide.  All slides were checked out to the pathologists by
9:00 am.

Recuts and specials would come back soon after, and be done by that
afternoon.  For bone marrow biopsies, we always did an iron stain which
went in with the H&E slides.  I cannot remember, but it seems to me that
sectioner #1 did those as well.  It has been 20 years so some of the
details are a little fuzzy.

There were only three of us in the lab.  It was a real pressure cooker.
Those people who thrive in a high pressure environment loved it.  Those
who didn't burned out in about 6 months.  Such is life, and such was my
fate.  I went back to research and have been happy ever since.

I don't know that I would recommend it, but if you really HAVE to get
more efficient you can.  You lab managers out there:  Just remember that
such efficiency comes at a great price in personnel turnover, many of
whom will be on the verge of a nervous breakdown when they leave.
Accuracy will suffer as the pressure breeds depression and other
symptoms.  I think this system could be made to work much better with
about twice the people.

Joe Saby, BA HT
Parke-Davis, Ann Arbor, MI.

> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Cheryl Crowder []
> Sent:	Sunday, September 06, 1998 2:05 AM
> To:
> Subject:	Work per hour
> TO:  A. G. DuToit:
> Having just read the report from South Africa, I was glad I was
> sitting
> down.  Are you really talking about trimming blocks, cutting, labeling
> slides, etc. for 100 + slides an hour?  I want to see the smoke coming
> from
> the microtomes and how many fingers to the techs have on each hand?
> Would
> you please expound on your technic?  And how thick are you cutting the
> tissue?
> Cheryl Crowder

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