Histopathology has seen a meteoric expansion in knowledge, technologies, and diagnostic capabilities; all leading to the advancement of detection and treatment of disease states. With this expansion of diagnostic tests and procedures, we have understandably seen an increase in the retention and storage of test results. In Histology this would primarily been in tissue block and slide storage. Because of regulatory and legal reasons, blocks and slides must be retained indefinitely for 10 years, 20, or even longer depending on the regulatory standard.
Initially and for decades to follow, block and slide storage systems accommodated a basic need for organization of patient tests and accessibility. Early design of storage files ranged from simple cardboard units to heavy steel industrial design. The cardboard units understandably were not designed for indefinite storage, as years of age would cause decay and eventual breakdown. The industrial steel units were heavy with little to no mobility, making it difficult to transfer from one area to another when full. Both types of units had extremely limited storage capacity making it necessary to frequently buy additional units.
High-density storage systems were introduced to the industry in the late 20th century, originally for high volume large laboratory facilities. Eventually even small to moderate laboratories saw the benefits of having years of expanded patient block and slide files on hand and easily accessible to pathologists and/or researchers.
Instead of having to utilize off-site storage services which were added cost and took time to retrieve, labs could have a central filing system with extended years of patient files on hand. The design was permanent heavy-duty steel cabinets with full suspension 400-pound load capacity on each drawer, allowing one to fully extend an entire drawer. Capacity was not the only benefit in this new design, as safety and security were primary considerations with the addition of a ‘Central Locking Mechanism’.
The locking device was created as a tip prevention safety measure not allowing more than one drawer to be opened at a time. The central lock also provides a privacy feature security option which controls/limits access to unauthorized personnel, reinforces patient privacy, and supports HIPAA regulatory standards on patient information security.
Understanding that the storage needs for large volume reference type lab facilities would be different than small hospitals or doctor’s offices, the High-Density Cabinets were designed with several capacity options ranging from 36-inch wide cabinets, to 48-inch wide, and even 60-inch wide. The storage capacities for each unit for blocks and slides are given in the first image shown.
Ease of use and functionality were designed to make these cabinets more customer friendly than the previous heavy-duty steel units, as each drawer in the system has been ergonomically designed with molded corners and easy-slide track systems.
Response to this new design from laboratories has been overwhelmingly positive in the benefits that these units provide for all the fore mentioned reasons and more. The cost associated with regularly buying other smaller units to keep up with capacity, the cost of off-site storage facilities for long-term storage, and the immediate accessibility of archived patient slides and blocks; all these validate why this is truly the ‘next generation in high volume storage’.
Lab Storage Systems has a complete line of High-Density Storage Cabinets from the smaller 36-inch units to the mega 60-inch units. We also supply molded high-impact polystyrene plastic trays for blocks and for slides, polyurethane foam spacers (retainer blocks), and the slide/block index markers to accompany these cabinets. Please contact your Lab Storage Systems customer service representative for information on these items, as well as other block/slide storage ideas.