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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Automation and Technology in the Histology Laboratory. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Test Cycle

Surgical pathology consists of a complex system of inputs. These inputs depend upon many individuals and factors to come together in a precise manner in order to produce an error-free diagnostic report. Like all diagnostic and analytic laboratories, the histology laboratory follows a defined process to create microscopic slides which help the pathologist determine a correct diagnosis. It is important to analyze these individual inputs, in order to improve and/or simplify one or more processes, as well as identify issues that may exist and result in potential errors.
When considering the movement of specimens through the histology laboratory, it is important to consider the entire process. Given the complexity of these processes, it can be helpful to break them down into distinct segments or phases. Laboratory test cycles are typically broken into three distinct phases, which occur in this order:
  1. Pre-analytic
  2. Analytic
  3. Post-analytic
Important tasks are completed within each testing phase. By considering each phase separately, you are more likely to isolate potential problems and the root causes of error.