Discover your own innovations
Seth L. Haber, MD
I suggested about a year ago that you browse through the hand tools department
of a large hardware store, such as Home Depot, to see if any of the items would
suggest them selves as potential innovations.
Well, the "mountain has come to Mohammed," and there is no real need for you to journey to the mountain. Home
Depot publishes a 104-page Tool Book catalog of items that are just crying out
for a job in a pathology department. You can pick up one at the nearest store
or, if there is not one convenient to you, request a catalog at 800-628-0849.
The Garrett Wade Tool Catalog, a new edition of which was just released, is
another one worth going through if you like fine tools, whether for cutting
table, workbench, garden, or office. On pages 8 and 9, for example, there are
three fascinating alternatives to the banal staple. All sorts of vises and clamps
could be used to hold bony tissue for you to cut. You can request the catalog
by calling 800-221-2942 or by surfing www.garrettwade.com.
A lab supply company
I don’t know how I missed it until recently, but there is a laboratory supply company, MarketLab (at www.marketlabinc.com
or 800-237-3604), that has been in business for about 10 years and whose catalog
is full of colorful, innovative products. I’ll describe some of the more interesting
items to show you why it’s worth requesting MarketLab’s catalog.
Inking tissue margins
You may recall that on pages 120-123 of Innovations in Pathology:
The Best of Thirty Years (IIP30), we discussed marking tissues, including
the variety of inks that are available. In its fall 2004 catalog, page 151,
MarketLab offers an assortment of permanent inks in five colors, plus black.
They are packaged in convenient 4-mL disposable squeeze bottles ($48 for 15),
and in 2-oz. and 8-oz. bottles ($78). It’s more expensive than mixing them yourself
from tattoo pigments, such as from Spaulding and Rogers Manufacturing company,
as described in IIP30, but a lot more convenient—and the pigment stays
Laboratory marking pens
MarketLab (page 41) also has a convenient
marker ($29/10) which, as Henry Ford said of his Model T cars, is available
in any color you want—just as long as you choose black. Its advantage,
however, is that it has a fine tip and, if used on frosted-end slides, plastics,
and glassware, the ink is allegedly resistant to alcohol, xylene, and other
solvents you’re apt to use in a laboratory.
In a previous column, I described MarketLab’s Captor ($12/3), into which you
lock the cap from the marking pen you use. Then, with screws or the tape that’s
included, you can fasten it to your microscope or any other surface. It keeps
your slide marking pen moist and convenient. The usual fine-tip lab pens are
available ($18/3) in your choice of black, blue, green, or red.
It’s about time
In addition to the usual choice of timers ($14 to $796), MarketLab offers (page
139) a $59 Stat Timer that’s hard to miss or ignore. It was originally designed
to keep track of time everywhere but in laboratories, and it did so until MarketLab
rescued it. You can set it for up to three functions, the beginnings and ends
of which are announced by one of five or six alarms, and the intervals by flashing
green, yellow, or red lights.
It’s in the bag
We all have similar problems with minuscule surgical
pathology specimens that sometimes show an almost lifelike perverse tendency
to crawl out of specimen cassettes and get lost or visit another cassette.
Over the years, we’ve visited and revisited myriad innovative solutions (IIP30, pages
116-118). We’ve tried everything from straining the contents of the specimen
container; sandwiching the fragments between blue sponges; and wrapping them
in cigarette papers, hair-curler papers, cut-up nylon stockings, and tissue
paper (everything but gift wrapping); to overpriced special cassettes with fine
holes—and they get lost anyhow. Now, we have MarketLab’s special disposable
nylon bags (page 150), which come in the usual sizes: small (11.33 inch, $89
/200 or $389 /M), medium (1.753 inches, $89 /200 or $389 /M), and large (33.75
inches, $199 /500).
These aren’t the first nylon biopsy bags we’ve tried, and I’m sure they won’t
be the last. Important minuscule fragments from that malpractice attorney’s
pigmented cutaneous lesion will continue to swim off and get lost, but these
biopsy bags might help diminish the frequency of such problems.
It’s in the jar
An ingenious system, which stains up to a dozen slides in special convenient
racks, is described on page 155. Evaporation from the matte plastic jars, which
each take up to 80cc of fluid, is minimized by an integral cover. The jars come
in five colors and can be clipped together to create a staining system, as for
frozen sections and for special stains.
"If not now, when?"
Timing can be everything. If you’ve been waiting for the ideal time to share your innovations
with your colleagues, let me assure you that now is that time. The well is running
dry and I’m parched. Please send in your innovations today. Your colleagues
and I will be most grateful.
As a gesture of my gratitude, I’ll send you a sample
of Pathco Slide Glide for your microscope stage. It provides a uniform white
background against which to inspect your slides and has a Teflon coating to
make it easier to move the slide.