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Arch Pathol Lab Med. 1995 Jun;119(6):514-7.

The effect of interinstitution anatomic pathology consultation on patient care.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Pennsylvania State University, Hershey 17033, USA.



To determine the effect of routine interinstitution anatomic pathology consultation on patient evaluation and treatment.


All interinstitution anatomic pathology consultation diagnoses made during a 1-year period were compared with the original pathologic diagnoses. Patients with discrepant diagnoses were evaluated after an interval of 1 year to determine the correct clinical diagnosis. The relevance of the pathologic consultation to furthering medical evaluation and treatment was determined from a review of the medical record and when necessary from consultation with the patient's physician.


Patients referred to a university hospital.


We determined the number of patients with discrepant pathologic diagnoses and whether these diagnoses changed the planned surgical procedure, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or medical evaluation.


Seventy-one (9.1%) discrepant diagnoses were identified among the 777 patients. Of these 71 patients, 45 (63%) demonstrated a change in therapy or clinical evaluation as a result of the interinstitution anatomic pathology consultation. In five of these patients the consultation diagnosis was in error. There was a significantly greater percentage of discordant diagnoses among the cytology and fine-needle aspiration biopsies (21%) as compared with the surgical pathology specimens (7.8%; P < .001).


Routine interinstitution anatomic pathology consultation resulted in a change in patient evaluation or treatment in 45 (5.8%) of the 777 cases reviewed. Our interinstitution anatomic pathology consultation policy appears to provide useful diagnostic information, which should contribute to improved patient care. However, when a discrepancy is identified, additional consultation or evaluation should be considered.

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