[Histonet] Number of blocks

Morken, Timothy Timothy.Morken <@t> ucsfmedctr.org
Thu Oct 25 13:30:02 CDT 2012

"40-50 blocks per hour."

Maybe for short times, in very simple circumstances, but I can't imagine that for extended periods or with a mix of samples and tasks.

In our histolab people have other tasks besides cutting so rarely are doing only cutting. I came up with over 15 different variations on a daily task list that people do in our lab, including embedding as well as cutting, cutting different types of samples during the day, handling rush bx, doing maintenance tasks, etc. Since it is so complicated I ended up rating people on only a few very specific cutting situations and then only for a couple of hours, not a whole day. 

Tim Morken
Department of Pathology
UC San Francisco Medical Center

-----Original Message-----
From: histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu [mailto:histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu] On Behalf Of Contact HistoCare
Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2012 9:23 AM
To: histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
Subject: [Histonet] Number of blocks


To most folks that number does seem high but I've met many old school techs who can do this easily. One of my first learning experiences was watching a 57 year old woman crank out tons of slides with no errors and who regularly got praises from the pathologists for producing the most beautiful slides.

While I have never been required to produce a certain amount within a certain window, I have built up the ability to cut a lot more than 50 per hour. I have even doubled this number. Of course it depends on the tissue type, but assuming properly decalcified bone, nothing popping out of the block, and a cold block of ice, it's very easy for me to produce a high quality slide at 3,4,5 microns. I get compliments all the time of my slides.

My methods are quite different from most techs though. When facing, I don't waste movements. I actually count the rotations and spend less than 8 seconds facing each block. I also get the right section usually in about the third or fourth crank and I only put at the most two sections in the water bath to pick up. 

I don't cut unnecessary ribbons just to have them sit in the water bath and eventually have to wipe away with the Kimwipe, which in my opinion is wasteful of both materials and time. I also make sure I have enough ice to keep the blocks very cold and adequately hydrated.

I'm not sure if being in decent physical shape matters but I think it gives me the arm stamina to do this. I use only my wrists and fingers and not my whole arm in the rotational motion.

Hope this helps,



>>> From: Dorothy Ragland-Glass <techmana12 <@t> yahoo.com>
>>> To: Histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
>>> Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 8:38 AM
>>> Subject: [Histonet] Number of blocks
>>> It was annouced by a histo lab manager that techs are expected to cut 40-50 blocks per hour. That seems to me to be rather high. I don't see quality slides being turned out. It is quantity and profit above patient care. I am old school, and I remember something about quality and patient first. Besides  what kind of impact on morality of the techs, back problems and carpal tunnel syndrom is laying ahead for the cutter after cranking the microtome repeatedly that many blocks without a break.

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