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J Pathol Inform. 2019 Jul 1;10:20. doi: 10.4103/jpi.jpi_17_19. eCollection 2019.

Computational Algorithms that Effectively Reduce Report Defects in Surgical Pathology.

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Dahl-Chase Pathology Associates, Bangor, Maine, USA.



Pathology report defects refer to errors in the pathology reports, such as transcription/voice recognition errors and incorrect nondiagnostic information. Examples of the latter include incorrect gender, incorrect submitting physician, incorrect description of tissue blocks submitted, report formatting issues, and so on. Over the past 5 years, we have implemented computational algorithms to identify and correct these report defects.

Materials and Methods:

Report texts, tissue blocks submitted, and other relevant information are retrieved from the pathology information system database. Two complementary algorithms are used to identify the voice recognition errors by parsing the gross description texts to either (i) identify previously encountered error patterns or (ii) flag sentences containing previously-unused two-word sequences (bigrams). A third algorithm based on identifying conflicting information from two different sources is used to identify tissue block designation errors in the gross description; the information on actual block submission is compared with the block designation information parsed from the gross description text.


The computational algorithms identify voice recognition errors in approximately 8%-10% of the cases and block designation errors in approximately 0.5%-1% of all the cases.


The algorithms described here have been effective in reducing pathology report defects. In addition to detecting voice recognition and block designation errors, these algorithms have also be used to detect other report defects, such as wrong gender, wrong provider, special stains or immunostains performed but not reported, and so on.


Computational algorithms; error reduction in pathology; pathology report defects

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