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Histotechnology Professionals Day Celebrates the Profession’s Growing Influence

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Histotechnologists and histotechnicians have a crucial impact on diagnoses for patients, especially through prognostic markers, and their influence has grown during the past 25 years. On March 10, the third annual Histotechnology Professionals Day recognizes their many achievements.

“It’s a good time to be a histotechnology professional,” said Robert Brunner, HT(ASCP)CM, Chairperson of the ASCP Board of Certification Histotechnology Committee. “Due to the impact of specialized procedures in the histology laboratory, histotechnologists and histotechnicians have directly affected the diagnostic process and treatment of patients.”

Kerry Crabb, HTL(ASCP), President of the National Society for Histotechnology, said the annual event also serves to educate the public on how histotechnology contributes toward improving their medical care and encourage more students to become histotechnologists. “Histotechnology is both a science and an art,” he said. “Every day, histotechnologists make a difference in people’s lives through their work.”

ASCP Board of Certification has 22,418 certified histotechnicians and 3,441 certified histotechnologists.* Traditionally, histotechnologists and histotechnicians work on patient tissue specimens in the hospital laboratory. Now they have also moved into forensics, pharmaceutical development, and marine and wildlife studies. Through technological advancements in equipment, separation techniques are heavily automated instead of manual.

Histotechnologists and histotechnicians are employing immunochemistry and molecular pathology on patient samples not only to diagnose patient disease but to assist in the prognosis. For example in different cancers, the prognostic markers demonstrated by histotechnologists give oncologists more information on how to customize the treatment plan for individuals.

“For breast cancer patients, immunohistochemistry performed on patient samples help to determine if Herceptin, a cancer treatment drug, will be used to treat the patient,” Mr. Brunner said. “In addition, based on the immunohistochemistry performed on prostate biopsies, oncologists determine the right treatment plan for prostate cancer patients.”

Laboratories are using Lean techniques that are helping histotechnology professionals become more efficient and minimize the costs to perform the tests. Many laboratories have implemented tracking systems to track samples from receipt in the laboratory to final diagnosis. Tracking systems also help in the reduction of mislabeling errors and thereby increase the quality of care for the patient.

* as of Dec. 31, 2011

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