A non-computerised method of accurate prospective analysis of the quantitative aspects of the work of a general histopathology laboratory was devised. The method entails monitoring the progress of all biopsy and cytology specimens through the laboratory during selected monthly periods of study. The data collected include details of specimen type, block/section/stain details for each specimen, and information about the timed progress through technical, medical, and secretarial stages of specimen/report handling. The results give a detailed breakdown of the biopsy and cytology workload of this department. They give information about the rate of passage of specimens through the system and identify reasons for delay in the reporting of some cases. The method is easy to operate and will allow for the analysis of specific effects--for example, staff changes--on the efficiency of the department. The data will also provide some of the information required for the costing of histopathology laboratory services, and the type of information obtained will probably become a necessary requirement for laboratory accreditation.
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