Does archiving Histological materials offsite require a leap of faith?

The University Hospital Aintree previously used an all-purpose storage company for their external archiving of histological materials. This article details the problems overcome and the improvements made by switching to CellNass.

Mike Venney from University Hospital Aintree shares his experiences

“At University Hospital Aintree, the space we have available for storage is finite with every available inch used throughout. So inevitably we got to a stage where we had to consider using an external archiving partner. We looked for a company that could store slides, blocks and associated paperwork and a colleague recommended a well-known storage company. Initially, we made the decision to only store materials over 5 years old, after which samples are infrequently recalled.

But things didn’t go according to plan. Our account managers changed on a regular basis and when we requested a sample, our first point of contact was a call centre where the understanding of the stored samples and how to handle them was low. We also had problems with basic indexing, caused by errors in their database and the fact that whole consignments were indexed with a single bar code. When we requested an individual slide it was difficult for them to locate, and on one such occasion, this involved a patient with a recurrence of breast cancer whose sample we needed to test for tolerance towards a type of chemotherapy.

In such a serious situation we requested back the whole batch and found the individual sample ourselves. CellNass first came onto our radar when we were looking for a partner with an HTA licence necessary to store post mortem material. Straight away we found that CellNass knew exactly what we needed and understood the way laboratories work. We were also given the chance to tour their facility and meet the team. The first big difference we discovered was that blocks and slides were indexed in small usable amounts within agreed sample ranges. This gave us reassurance that we would be able to get samples back without experiencing the problems of the past.

Histology Archiving Solution - CellNass

When the material was eventually transferred from the storage company to CellNass it was found to be damaged with many slides broken – something we’d experienced on previous recalls. CellNass did their best to recover and repair as many as possible. They knew where things were at every stage and gave us realistic timescales. During this transfer we needed some material returning that the storage company had not catalogued. CellNass went out of their way to locate and return them – a great test at a challenging time.

When previously asked for material by colleagues, we always hoped they could be returned – but could never guarantee it. Now we are about as close to 100% confident as we’ll ever be. To say we’re pleased is an understatement!”

Mike Venney, University Hospital Aintree

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