Pathologists are medical doctors who are critical members of the health care team, combining a scientist's understanding of what laboratory evidence suggests and a specialty physician's knowledge of medicine to determine the correct diagnosis.
On any given day, pathologists impact nearly all aspects of patient care, from diagnosing cancer to managing chronic diseases such as diabetes through accurate laboratory testing. They diagnose all types of medical conditions:
- Diseases—by studying specimens such as polyps and biopsies
- Genetic disorders—by using molecular biology and genetics
- Skin diseases
- Nervous system diseases
- Diseases that affect blood cells
- Microbes that cause infections
- Fetal, infant, and childhood diseases
Overall, pathologists ensure laboratory quality so that diagnostic testing is safe and accurate. They are responsible for the diagnostic accuracy of every test. Often, they guide primary care and other doctors, determining the right test, at the right time, for the right patient.
Although patients may never meet the pathologist on their care team, they can be assured that these experts deliver quality and care are at every step.