Guidelines for Uniform Labeling of Slides and Blocks in Surgical Pathology
Fri, 22 Nov 2013

The College of American Pathologists (CAP) and the National Society for Histotechnology(NSH) have partnered to produce guidelines for Uniform Labeling of Slides and Blocks in Surgical Pathology. We invite your organization?s members to participate in the open comment period beginning November 8, 2013 through December 6, 2013 to provide feedback about the draft recommendations. Accurate and precise labeling of paraffin blocks and glass slides is an essential element of quality assurance and patient safety in surgical pathology. The block and slide labels must unambiguously link a patient specimen to a corresponding diagnosis in the patient?s pathology report. The use of two unique patient identifiers on all patient samples has become routine laboratory practice; however, there are no guidelines regarding the application of this standard to anatomic pathology specimens. Further, there appears to be significant interlaboratory variation in the content of slide and block identifiers and the manner in which these are applied. For these reasons, the CAP and NSH convened an expert panel to address the scope question of: What are the essential elements for the proper labeling of paraffin blocks and microscopic slides in the routine practice of surgical pathology? In addition, the panel is exploring the scope questions below: ? What are the essential elements required for the unambiguous labeling of slides and blocks with regard to unique patient identifiers? ? What are the essential elements required for the unambiguous labeling of slides and blocks with regard to their origin (specimen and, within the specimen, correlation with gross description)? ? When additional studies (deeper sections, special stains, immunohistochemistry) are requested, what information should be included on the resulting slides? a. How do you identify different slides that have been cut? (i.e. step sections have different meanings across labs) b. How would one determine the appending of numbers of subsequent slides? c. What standards should apply for the unique labeling of slides that have been stained with histochemical or immunohistochemical techniques? ? What is the value of standardizing the abbreviations and conventions used in key question #3? ? In what order should the ?essential? elements appear on the slide and, if space precludes inclusion of all, what is the priority? ? How should a laboratory label blocks and slides received in consultation? The expert panel drafted recommendations following a systematic review of peer-reviewed literature and taking into account their expert opinion. After consideration of the public comments, further discussion and analysis, the final recommendations will be published in Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and the Journal of Histotechnology. Share your voice during the open comment period, assuring our recommendations are clinically sound, practical and implementable, thereby reducing risk to our patients and specialty. Best Regards, Richard W. Brown, MD, FCAP, CAP Co-chair Vincent Della Speranza, MS, HTL(ASCP), NSH Co-chair