The Myth Of The 60 Square Foot Dermpathology Lab


Sixty square feet? No quality histotech will even consider working in such a cramped space. IOP requires a minimum of 300 square feet. An exam on average measures 10 x 10, or 100 square foot. Would you want a closet-sized area for vital medical work, the diagnosis of cancer?


Other issues associated with mini labs are:


• Ventilation – Some companies tout using microwave tissue processing. Sure, the units are smaller than traditional tissue processors, however, the fumes will be overwhelming. This requires external venting which involves building permits and additional costs.


• Manual staining – the only way it is even remotely possible to install a lab this small is to utilize manual staining for all tissues (both routine staining and special stains). The quality will be horrendous, with variations from batch to batch. Manual staining was abandoned by the pathology community decades ago. More than likely a histotech will refuse to take a job upon learning they have to do manual staining.


• Flammable cabinets – Where in this mini lab does one place the two yellow flammable cabinets, which are required by both the local fire marshal and CLIA? In an IOP lab these fit under the countertops easily.


• Microtomy – This process, the cutting of slide sections for placement on the microscope, usually needs to be separated from the rest of the laboratory to allow this delicate work to be done with extreme precision.


• LIS – Where do you place the computer workstation in a mini lab like this? The histotech needs to have access to the LIS when accessioning the tissue specimens.


There are two competitors who advocate this mini path lab concept. One is part of a used lab equipment vendor and the other a manufacturer of microwave tissue processors. Before considering a mini lab, imagine, for a minute, performing an EGD series or colonoscopy or prostate ultrasound in a hall closet in your practice. Not just once, but daily, for months on end.

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