Ashley Troutman has been involved in Laboratory Medicine for more than 20 years in clinical, research and administrative capacities. He has worked in facilities of all sizes, from small community hospitals and private labs to large academic medical centers and corporate reference labs. He has extensive experience in laboratory science and management, specifically in anatomic pathology and immunohistochemistry. He has managed routine histology operations and has been part of the team to aid researchers in designing experiments using histologic techniques. These roles have allowed Ashley to lead work process implementation teams that saw success in scientific innovation as well as improving laboratory efficiency through areas of waste/cost reduction, process improvement and safety.
The cleaning process of a paraffin tray during microtomy may seem like a mundane and ordinary task. However, when you consider the time it takes to clean the tray and the number of times per day this occurs, it can add up to a significant amount of time and resources each day.
Anti-static microtome paraffin trays are designed to resist the adhesion of paraffin sections to the tray and allow for ease of cleaning. The following research was conducted to measure the different time measurements between the following methods: cleaning a standard paraffin tray; cleaning a standard paraffin tray with wet paper towels; and cleaning the anti-static tray.
Each method started by filling the paraffin tray with 7000 4-micron sections.
The tray was then emptied by first knocking it on the side of the waste bin 3 times to remove all loose paraffin. The timer was started when the remaining paraffin that was adhered to the tray was swept away with a brush and stopped when this process was completed. Each method using a standard tray, a standard tray with wet paper towel and an antistatic tray, was duplicated 15 times. The mean results were:
- Standard tray: 16.07 seconds
- Standard tray with wet paper towels: 11.33 seconds
- Anti-static tray 4.8 seconds
From the observed results, a 70% reduction in total cleaning time from the standard tray was calculated. The time savings can be further demonstrated by the number of times a tray is cleaned each day. If, for example, 10 standard trays are cleaned 10 times in an 8-hour shift, the resulting time would be 1607 seconds, or 26.8 minutes per 8 hours.
If the anti-static tray is used, the resulting cleaning time would be 8 minutes per 8 hours. This is a significant difference in time, freeing up 18.8 minutes every 8 hours, or 56.4 minutes during a 24-hour day. This results in a savings of nearly 1 hour of tray cleaning time every day.
Please, note that projected and realized results are specific to the institution where they were obtained and may not reflect the results achievable at other institutions.
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