[Histonet] Histotechs: how many are we nationwide?

Weems, Joyce JWEEMS <@t> sjha.org
Fri Oct 6 16:07:42 CDT 2006

Very well said Bryan. You can jump into our conversations any time! 

-----Original Message-----
From: histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
[mailto:histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu]On Behalf Of Bryan
Sent: Friday, October 06, 2006 5:03 PM
To: Histonet
Subject: Re: [Histonet] Histotechs: how many are we nationwide?

It was said in a post from someone:

"The answer to several of your questions has to do with how a histotech fits 
in the medical field. The salient fact is that the histotech does not make 
any diagnostic decisions. That is the province of the pathologist. On the 
other hand, med techs are "signing out" cases all the time in the "clinical" 
lab and the pathologist only is involved when there is a discrepancy 
(sometimes not even then). This happens because med techs are for the most 
part reporting quantitiative values taken from their instruments. In 
microbiology they are reporting out postive/negative infections. Cytologists 
are reporting out diagnoses on interpreted information - far beyond most med 
tech work - and they have legal liability for it. "

I, like most non US histotechs, have stayed out of this discussion about 
numbers and certification of HT and HTL, but the comment above caught my eye 
because we had a very similar discussion in Canada on the subject about 25 
years ago, as to whether Histotechnologists do work as responsible as 
Medical laboratory Technologists.

In Canada the debate was started in an attempt by a few who wanted to remove 
histotechnology from the Medical Laboratory Technologist syllabus.  The US 
is an anomoly in that in most other countries Histotechnology is one of the 
fundamental disciplines in which Medical Laboratory technologists are 
trained.  In the US it is replaced with mycology, I believe.  We were 
successful in stopping the removal of the subject, but one of the major 
arguments used was that we were not MLTs because we did not sign out 

The definition of a MLT is "one who does testing of biological samples", not 
"a person who signs reports".  I always pointed out that a person who cuts 
frozen sections of a woman's breast while she is being operated on and who 
may lose the breast completely as a consequence of that section is doing 
something just a tad more responsible than signing out a urinalysis report 
saying, "No pus cells seen."  Reductio ad absurdio in both cases.

As an observation, I understood the original question to be how many people 
in the US made their living by doing technical work in a histology 
laboratory rather than how many were formally qualified to do it.  Of 
course, I have always been in favoour of qualifications, preferably at an 
advanced level.

Please excuse my intrusion in a US national debate.

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