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Am J Clin Pathol. 2011 May;135(5):760-5. doi: 10.1309/AJCPJF1YUFG6GTFI.

Communicating pathology and laboratory errors: anatomic pathologists' and laboratory medical directors' attitudes and experiences.

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Department of Pathology, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.


Physicians are urged to communicate more openly following medical errors, but little is known about pathologists' attitudes about reporting errors to their institution and disclosing them to patients. We undertook a survey to characterize pathologists' and laboratory medical directors' attitudes and experience regarding the communication of errors with hospitals, treating physicians, and affected patients. We invited 260 practicing pathologists and 81 academic hospital laboratory medical directors to participate in a self-administered survey. This survey included questions regarding estimated error rates and barriers to and experience with error disclosure. The majority of respondents (~95%) reported having been involved with an error, and respondents expressed near unanimous belief that errors should be disclosed to hospitals, colleagues, and patients; however, only about 48% thought that current error reporting systems were adequate. In addition, pathologists expressed discomfort with their communication skills in regard to error disclosure. Improving error reporting systems and developing robust disclosure training could help prevent future errors, improving patient safety and trust.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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