[Histonet] RE: Number of blocks (Contact HistoCare)

Mayer,Toysha N TNMayer <@t> mdanderson.org
Thu Oct 25 16:36:14 CDT 2012

Another thing to consider is, is this averaged out over several hours or not.  Sitting and cutting 50 blocks in one hour of time is a stretch, but if I average it out over 2-3 hours I can cut almost that many (40).  That would be multiple types of tissues and varying number of sections, but not just time myself and cut for one hour and stop.  Also think of how long it takes to trim those blocks. 
While the 40-50 number is high, look at how many are cut over time, it should average out as 30+ per hour.  

Toysha Mayer

Message: 1
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2012 11:23:07 -0500
From: Contact HistoCare <contact <@t> histocare.com>
Subject: [Histonet] Number of blocks
To: "histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu"
	<histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu>
Message-ID: <B23BEA86-5F91-4F2B-918C-F68D3CFFBD49 <@t> histocare.com>
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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.


Message: 2
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2012 16:28:47 +0000
From: "Bartlett, Jeanine (CDC/OID/NCEZID)" <jqb7 <@t> cdc.gov>
Subject: RE: [Histonet] Number of blocks
To: Contact HistoCare <contact <@t> histocare.com>,
	"histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu"
	<histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu>
	<DF1CBA3D83D9A344A7D6A045188E448433A25F0D <@t> EMBX-CLFT1.cdc.gov>
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You mention how many rotations you use for facing your blocks. That assumes whoever did the embedding did a good job.  And even with no unnecessary ribbons.....whether there are extra sections or not, you still have to keep the water bath scrupulously clean which means wiping out with a Kimwipe after each block...whether there are ribbons floating or not.

Jeanine H. Bartlett
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Infectious Diseases Pathology Branch
jeanine.bartlett <@t> cdc.hhs.gov

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