• NSH

Battleship for Blocks

By: Cristi Rigazio



Ever feel like you are attempting to nail Jell-O to a tree while trying to organize, file and re-file blocks??


How many hours have we all spent filing blocks? Paraffin building up under our nails, clothes looking as though you must have some serious dandruff, and let’s not even talk about the countless hours spent looking for a block that was never there in the first place!


Enter the Arcos System for Block Filing Management. Finally, the histology world got a much-needed upgrade. We implemented this system at our organization last September and the return on investment couldn’t be higher, from employee morale and engagement, to actual dollars.


How does it work? It’s simple: the drawers are plastic just as we are used to, but they have slots for the blocks to fit into (each drawer can hold up to 240 blocks). We don’t try to squeeze just one more block into the drawer, only to have it pop out at us the next time we access it! Each row is assigned a letter and each slot has a number. The drawer is then placed into a scanner where each block is scanned and photographed. Blocks that can’t be scanned are easily entered manually via the picture taken. The drawer is assigned a location, subsequently placed there and awaiting any needs that may arise for the contents! So easy…I can’t believe we didn’t have this before.


What happens when I want a block that I have already scanned? I go to the software, tell it what I am looking for and why I am looking for it (recut, sendout, IHC, etc.,) and it tells me exactly where to go. Example, File Cabinet #1, Tray 2018-00150 G24. A PDA is used to scan the tray and the block to confirm it is the correct block, reducing the risk of grabbing a block in error exponentially.


Not only are we saving time not having to organize the blocks by case, part and block number, but we don’t have to search aimlessly anymore either. We can also quickly tell where a block is or why it is not available. Reports can be generated to determine where our materials are if we need to request their return.


We have actually been able to turn an administrative FTE position into a lab assistant position to provide support in other areas (because we always need help, right?!).

Of course there are expenses involved, but they are quickly reimbursed with time and the money saved performing tasks that don’t provide units of service.


If you are in need of time savers, lab optimization and organization, I highly recommend looking into the Arcos system!

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The National Society for Histotechnology is a professional member organization for individuals actively involved in the histology profession. NSH has over 3,000 members worldwide, and is the leading provider of histology focused continuing education.  

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