The recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on diagnostic errors emphasizes the importance of communication and error disclosure in medicine. Physicians are urged to communicate more openly following medical errors, but little is known about pathologists’ attitudes about disclosing pathology and laboratory errors that cause harm to their colleagues, treating clinicians and patients. Pathologists’ error reporting is complicated by the lack of any pre-existing relationship between patient and pathologist. Patients are usually unaware of the role of pathologists in their care. This leaves treating clinicians in the uncomfortable position of having to disclose any pathology errors to patients.
Suzanne M Dintzis, MD, PhD, FCAP