As automation transforms the manual work processes in the histopathology laboratory, “floaters” may become a thing of the past
Any histotechnologist and pathologist familiar with the manual work processes commonly in use in histopathology laboratories knows about “floaters.” These are the pesky artifacts that are a consequence of the common practice of manually processing tissue through the series of H&E linear baths required for the proper staining of these samples prior to analysis by anatomic pathologists.
“Floaters” are a relevant example of why manual work processes in the histopathology laboratory can be the source of errors and mistakes. Certain types of floaters—including floaters consisting of malignant tissue fragments—have the potential to contaminate the patient specimen. This can negatively impact patient safety and even contribute to a misdiagnosis of the patient. Moreover, the issue of floaters has been around for decades, because the manual work processes involving the H&E (hematoxylin and eosin stain) linear baths have remained relatively unchanged during this time.