College of American Pathologists
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  The statement in brief


CAP Today




August 2011
Feature Story

Urgent diagnosis: a medical condition that in most cases should be addressed as soon as possible.

Significant unexpected diagnosis: a medical condition that is clinically unusual or unforeseen and should be addressed at some point in the patient’s course.

Consensus statement:
  • Each institution should create its own policy for both AP urgent diagnoses and significant unexpected diagnoses.
  • Pathology departments should collaborate with clinical staff to determine specific urgent diagnoses.
  • Significant unexpected diagnoses depend heavily on pathologists’ judgment.
  • Reasonable time frame, no longer than the same day of diagnosis, should be adopted.
  • Oral and direct communication with physicians is recommended, but other communication methods may be established.
  • Document the communication.

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