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Detection and Classification of Diagnostic Discrepancies (Errors) in Surgical Pathology

Roy, Jennifer E. BS, MM; Hunt, Jennifer L. MD, MEd

Advances in Anatomic Pathology:
doi: 10.1097/PAP.0b013e3181ece0db
Review Articles

Detecting and classifying error in a surgical pathology (SP) practice is an important part of a comprehensive quality assurance program. There are a number of mechanisms to detect error, including secondary review, examination of amended reports, correlation studies (cytology-histology and frozen-final diagnosis correlation). These different detection methods are reviewed in this paper. Additionally, the most common methods for error classification are also reviewed, along with the benefits and limitations of each. Although there is presently no gold standard for detecting or classifying errors in SP, based on this review of the literature, it is clearly good practice to consistently apply a standard method. Most importantly, these data should be incorporated into quality assurance and quality improvement activities, such that departments strive to reduce errors, and to help improve overall quality in SP.

Author Information

Department of Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA

Reprints: Jennifer L. Hunt, MD, MEd, Department of Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Warren 202, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114 (e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.