The current state of communication of urgent and significant, unexpected diagnoses in anatomic pathology

Paul N. Staats, Vinita Parkash, Christopher N. Otis, Poonam Sharma, Olga Ioffe, Erika R. Bracamonte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Context.-The concept of critical diagnoses in anatomic pathology is relatively recent and rigorous study of the issue is quite limited. The College of American Pathologists and Association of Directors of Anatomic and Surgical Pathology issued a consensus statement in 2012. There has been no multi-institutional study of communication policies since then. Objective.-To survey the policies of anatomic pathology laboratories regarding communication of critical values. Design.-A survey of the Association of Directors of Anatomic and Surgical Pathology membership was performed using a 14-question electronic survey tool. Results.-Responses were received from 38 institutions. Thirty-five of 38 (92%) had a policy on anatomic pathology critical values. Twenty-five of 38 (66%) respondents had read the College of American Pathologists/Association of Directors of Anatomic and Surgical Pathology consensus statement. Twelve of 38 (32%) institutions divided critical values into 2 categories, of which 9 used the College of American Pathologists/ Association of Directors of Anatomic and Surgical Pathology terminology; 24 used only a single term, of which 11 used critical value. There was substantial variation in the diagnoses that were considered critical. A direct phone call to the responsible provider was uniformly considered an acceptable means of communication; all other methods had mixed or low support. The most common time frame was same day; many laboratories did not specify a timeframe. Most laboratories document date, time, and person to whom the result was communicated in the final report or an addendum report. Eighteen of 38 (47%) laboratories report an auditing mechanism for communication. Conclusions.-Policies for communication of critical/ urgent/significant, unexpected results in anatomic pathology are the norm. However, there remains significant variation between institutions in the details of these policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1067-1074
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Volume144
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology

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