[Histonet] Re: Floaters

Robert Richmond RSRICHMOND <@t> aol.com
Mon Nov 24 12:42:48 CST 2008

Teresa Hallada in Michigan asks: >>Would anyone care to share their
policy on floaters? Also, does anyone know if there is a CAP policy
[on] floaters?<<

At Gastonia we sent 'em on to the state ME's office - they had an
adequately ventilated autopsy suite....

But seriously, folks, I've never heard of any regulatory agency having
a policy on floaters - extraneous tissue on a slide that's floated in
from some other case.

What I was taught in residency - sometime in the late Ordovician
period, I think it was - not to mention them in a report, but write
"floater" on the slide before filing it.

I've never heard anybody observe this, but there are two kinds of
floaters: individual tissue sections (the responsibility of the
microtomist) and whole chunks of tissue (the responsibility of whoever
grossed the specimen). Since the trouble-shooting for these two
problems is entirely different, you first have to determine which kind
of floater you've got. Obviously if it's a whole chunk of tissue,
you'll get repeated sections of it.

If it's whole chunks of tissue, then the grosser isn't cleaning
instruments adequately between cases. If I ran the zoo, I'd have
several sets of instruments, throw them in a pot as I used them, and
wash them when I ran out of instruments, but the Hospital
Administrator's Official Handy-Dandy Book on How to Make Life Hard for
the Anatomic Pathology Service specifies that there be only one set of
grossing instruments in the lab at a time.

(I've never actually seen this book, but I'm absolutely sure it exists.)

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
Knoxville TN

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