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The Value of Inking Breast Cores to Reduce Specimen Mix-up

Andrew A. Renshaw MD, Richard Kish MHS, Edwin W. Gould MD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/YX0R8VX8T4EBQVLA 271-272 First published online: 1 February 2007


Accidental switching of tissue specimens in the histology laboratory can result in significant medical error. We sought to evaluate inking breast core needle specimens as a method to reduce the chance of specimen mix-up. We sequentially inked 1,000 consecutive breast core specimens with 6 different colors. Review of the color of the ink revealed 3 discrepancies: 1 related to blocks being switched, 1 related to incorrect labeling, and 1 was a typographical error. Inking of breast core specimens is a simple, inexpensive, and effective way to help reduce the chance of specimen mix-up.

Key Words:
  • Surgical pathology
  • Quality
  • Error
  • Inking
  • Breast core