Q: What are the types of challenges your lab faces when having to manually aliquot patient sample material from the primary vial into a secondary tube prior to running an HPV test?
A: The addition of an extra step to the assay presents a lot of challenges. First and foremost, it takes time. It takes manpower and time for someone to manually open the primary vial, aliquot the sample into a secondary tube, and label both vials.
While time and labor are the biggest challenges, there is also a potential implication for patient care. Is the sample aliquoted properly? Although the risk is low, this is still a serious concern. Any time a sample is manually moved from one tube to another, the potential for a mistake exists.
Q: What do you think each of these challenges costs your lab in time, resources, efficiency, etc. which could be better spent on productive work?
A: We pre-aliquot a majority of our HPV tests if they are ordered at the time the Pap test is done. Because of this, the pre-aliquoting happens at the time of specimen accession. When a vial arrives, it gets accessioned and the number of tests that are being taken out gets entered into a computer and the sample is aliquoted. This process takes anywhere between five to ten minutes to complete before each individual label is created for each individual vial. There are also many different people involved in this process that it is hard to gauge the true time and resources that are spent completing this task.
Q: What would the value be to you or your staff, if you were able to load the primary LBC sample vial received from cytology directly on to your HPV platform post cytology in an attempt to reduce potential aliquoting challenges?
A: We would be able to skip the entire aliquoting step. Any time you can skip a step in a laboratory you improve efficiency, decrease the potential for mistakes, and essentially streamline your process.
Q: If you could tell a colleague one or two things about the challenges with aliquoting and/or advantages of loading the primary vial like we just discussed, what would they be?
A: There are two that immediately come to mind: improved turnaround time and improved efficiency. The ability to reduce the amount of time aliquoting is huge. It is really the time and effort it takes to do that which would be reduced! People are humans and mistakes happen. No one ever wants to talk about it, but it is a reality in a laboratory. You cannot be a laboratorian where that does not cross your mind. Every time you remove a manual step it helps.
Director of Molecular Pathology Metropolitan Pathologists PC