labeled and unlabeled slides

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From:Jim Ball <> (by way of histonet)
Date:Mon, 31 Jan 2000 22:47:05 -0500
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I was recently asked to try and get an arsenal of different blocks together
that could be used for controls for both immuno's and special stains. I was
not given any extra time out of the day or allowed over time to occomplish
this task, so as every resourcesful tech does I devised a plan   that I
thought I could use and and still get this job done, while maintaing my end
of the work flow in the department.
I cut extra slides on blocks that I knew I had little or no wet tissue to go
back to in order produce additional blocks on ( ie. gastric biosies that
were ordered for H. pylori) our pathologists have allowed us to use part of
patient blocks as controls when these controls are not other wise easily
obtained, but they do not want them identified by their surgical number.  We
cut 3 extra slides on a gastric a biopsy for a Wartin Starr procedure that
is notrious for not working the first time. Two slides are kept as back ups
and are left in a slide stand in case they are needed latter, If we are so
busy that I am unable to check the results of the stain procedure that day I
may hold these unstained slides for up to a month in the slide stand or
staining rack near my microtome until I can check the results or run one of
the extra slides on another stain run that I would personaly be doing. This
practice is done for other special stain procedures also such as irons,
giemsa, trichromes, etc.  Should the tissue prove to be an excellent control
I then go back to the block and cut as many additional slides as possible
and leave them to dry unlabeled in a slide stand until a special stain can
be done on one of the slides from the beginning middle and end. I do not
label these slides until they are proven, because I don not want to put
extra work into labeling slides that may not even end up being used.
       Trying to prove Immuno controls is some what different in the fact
that, while grossing if we should happen on a tumor that looks like it might
make a good control ,
extra tissue is obtained at the time of grossing and the surgical number
placed on the side of the cassett in order that it is not taken to be one of
the routine surgical blocks and cut , stained and given to the pathologist
the next day. These blocks are kept in a box near the microtome for easy
retival when time permits for cutting and running slides to be checked.
Slides may be be cut and saved unlabeled in a slide drying rack over night
if the staining procedure is going to be performed the next day. I feel this
does not present a problem because unlabeled slides should never be used as
diagnostic material, when the slides are proven, extra slides are cut and
labeled with a coded numbering sequence such as Her99-0001. This could
designate a her-2nu control block cut in 1999 and the 0001 designating all
the blocks taken for controls from that case that produce the desired
staining effect. This numbering system produces a  system that is both safe
for the patient and the pathologist . The control blocks are cross
referenced in a seperate book for CAP inspection purposes.
         I have taken alot of your time in order to give you a background
and insight for formulating an answer to the following question. Are there
techs in your hospital that
keep extra and or unlabeled slides in their work area for later use, and if
so has it caused any confusion for other techs in the department. Insight
from my peers on how this system might be made better are welcomed. I have
found if these slides are filed in a box and put in a drawer they prove an
old adage "out of sight out of mind"

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