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Minutes Count for Pathologists in Urgent Patient Diagnoses

Monday, June 03, 2013

Pathologists should communicate urgent diagnoses as soon as possible because it directly affects patient care.

A new set of guidelines addresses what constitutes a critical value in pathology and how best to ensure proper and timely communication of those results and has been posted to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality National Guidelines Clearinghouse website. Co-developed by the Association of Directors of Anatomic and Surgical Pathology and College of American Pathologists, the guidelines, known as the “Consensus statement on effective communication of urgent diagnoses and significant, unexpected diagnoses in surgical pathology and cytopathology, seek to promote effective communication of urgent and significant, unexpected diagnoses in surgical pathology and cytology.

Major recommendations include:

  • Each institution should create its own policy regarding “Urgent Diagnoses and Significant, Unexpected Diagnoses in Anatomic Pathology.” This policy should be separate from critical result or panic value policies in clinical pathology with the expectation of a different time frame for communication.

  • Pathology departments should determine specific urgent diagnoses in collaboration with the clinical staff.

  • The determination of a significant, unexpected diagnosis is heavily dependent on the pathologist’s judgment as a physician. By their nature, significant, unexpected diagnoses cannot always be anticipated.

  • Pathologists should communicate urgent diagnoses as soon as possible because it directly affects patient care. Each institution, however, should establish a reasonable time frame. In the consensus statement, authors recommend no longer than the same day on which the diagnosis is made.

To view the entire document, visit http://guideline.gov/content.aspx?f=rss&id=39266&osrc=12.


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