Study of Cross-Contamination of Biopsy Specimens in 69 Anatomic Pathology Laboratories Raises Concerns about Test Quality and Patient Safety

Extraneous tissue cross-contamination found in all participating pathology laboratories Cross-tissue contamination, regardless of specimen volume or how frequently reagents were changed Pathologists and histotechnologists have long known that traditional methods of processing tissue for diagnosis have the potential to cross-contaminate human biopsy specimens. This risk to patient safety and diagnostic accuracy was accepted over the decades because of the limitations of technology and inability...

Could Patient-Error Reports Cause Pathologists To Be Responsible for Other Providers’ Mistakes?

Who is responsible when a patient is misdiagnosed because the patient’s physician read a clinical laboratory test report incorrectly? Could clinical pathologists be held responsible for medical errors caused by other providers? That’s a possibility under a proposal from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). AHRQ is seeking approval for a prototype of a new reporting system for medical errors, AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., told The New York Times in a story...

New York Times Writes about Pathologists’ Misdiagnoses of Breast Cancer Cases

Variability in the accuracy provided by pathologists at different hospital laboratories is highlighted… Pathology misdiagnoses for selected types of breast cancer was the subject of a New York Times story this week. In recent days, Newsweek and several other newspapers across the nation picked up the theme and published their own stories centered on misdiagnoses of breast cancer. Such extensive media coverage elevates public awareness of the role of pathologists in diagnosing disease—but, in...

Doctors Get Electronic Help with Their Diagnoses Via Decision Support Software

Misdiagnosis by doctors leads to many of the cases that we hear about in the news (or on the TV show “House.”). We live in an age where doctors are under pressure to see as many patients in as little time as possible. Not surprising, then, that many physicians often diagnose the most obvious medical condition they deem appropriate without full and detailed consideration of what alternative medical conditions may also be present. Kaiser Permanente and the Veterans Health Administration are...