Fixation on Histology

Increasing Efficiency and Accuracy Through Barcoding

Bar CodeBarcoding was developed to reduce manual data entry and errors that can occur as a result of manual work. Since their development, barcodes have been widely adopted by virtually every industry and used for product identification, tracking, marketing, and other benefits. So, how can barcoding benefit the field of histology? Labs that incorporate the use of barcoding can reap several benefits, including
  • Productivity improvements
  • Error reductions
  • Specimen integrity control
  • Turn-around time upgrades
  • Task elimination (without compromising quality) 

With up to 70 percent of laboratory errors occurring in the pre- and post- analytic phases, adoption of barcoding can help reduce the errors that might occur during error prone tasks such as the labeling of specimens, cassettes, or slides. Workflow processes may have to be changed to ensure the benefits of barcoding are derived. A one-piece workflow, one block at a time, must be done. Batch processing introduces a greater opportunity for errors. 

Barcodes can be printed on labels or directly on slides. Both save time labeling and eliminate the possibility of a number or letter being transposed; the latter approach also improves productivity by saving the step of affixing the label to the slide. Scanning the barcodes can be used for quality assurance during processing and eliminate nonvalue added tasks such as the checking and rechecking of a technician’s work. Barcodes can also be used for tracking and improving documentation. For example, by scanning a barcode on a slide, you can record the time it begins and ends processing. 

Has your laboratory incorporated the use of barcodes?  What unique ways have you used barcoding to increase productivity or reduce errors? Let us know in the comments.

You can learn more about barcoding in the Webinar:  Barcoding 201: Troubleshooting Cassette and Slide Printing Problems presented by Loretta Sayles, AS, HT(ASCP) 

1 comment



10-15-2021 15:48

Thank you very much Loretta Sayles, AS, HT(ASCP)  for your contribution which touched an important topic to discuss and crucial to reduce error in Anatomic Pathology Laboratory. For me I have practised in both manual and barcoding data entry method. Let me explain few of  the activities in both:
Biopsy containers are labeled in marker which makes the information may illegible or create confusion what number is written at. At Grossing there should be another personnel that converts the audio description from the pathologist to text ( Here the helper personnel's hand writing may illegible or mislabeled request or/and cassettes may find).  At embedding, sectioning and staining also many errors are recording. 
Conclusion: In our comparative study on " Error rate Manual Vs barcoding data entry" which was cancelled because of the Slide printer paper had run off!! From the rough data: the error rate of Manual Vs barcoding data entry was very high!!
Giorgis Yeabyo, MCLM, ASCP,htl