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The Dermatology Office and Dermatopathology Laboratory: Reducing Errors by Working Together

Balfour, Erika M.

Journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association:
doi: 10.1097/JDN.0b013e3181ebb3b3
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Abstract: An important means to reduce medical errors between the dermatology office and the dermatopathology lab is to improve communication. The dermatology office and the dermatopathology laboratory being as meticulous as possible, another way to reduce medical errors is to improve communication between them. Understanding laboratory needs and limitations is of paramount importance. The dermatology office can improve patient care, as well as lower the likelihood of malpractice lawsuits, by routinely calling the dermatopathology laboratory when guidance is needed regarding optimal biopsy type and location, by informing the dermatopathologist of pertinent clinical information, and by calling to question results that do not "make sense" or match the clinical impression at the time of biopsy.

Author Information

Erika M. Balfour, MD, Dermatopathologist, Ackerman Academy of Dermatopathology, New York, NY, and Assistant Professor of Pathology, Department of Pathology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York.

A portion of this paper was taken from the author's lecture "Dermatopathology: Laboratory Errors and the Rise in Medical-Legal Issues," given at the Dermatology Nurse's Association National Annual Convention, in San Francisco, March 2009.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Erika M. Balfour, MD, 145 East 32nd St. 10th Floor, New York, NY 10016. E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.