Journal of Pathology Informatics Journal of Pathology Informatics
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 18

Subspecialty surgical pathologist's performances as triage pathologists on a telepathology-enabled quality assurance surgical pathology service: A human factors study

1 Department of Pathology, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ, USA
2 Department of Pathology; Arizona Telemedicine Program, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ, USA
3 Arizona Telemedicine Program, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ, USA
4 Arizona Telemedicine Program; Department of Medical Imaging, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ, USA

Correspondence Address:
Ronald S. Weinstein
Department of Pathology: Arizona Telemedicine Program, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2153-3539.133142

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Background: The case triage practice workflow model was used to manage incoming cases on a telepathology-enabled surgical pathology quality assurance (QA) service. Maximizing efficiency of workflow and the use of pathologist time requires detailed information on factors that influence telepathologists' decision-making on a surgical pathology QA service, which was gathered and analyzed in this study. Materials and Methods: Surgical pathology report reviews and telepathology service logs were audited, for 1862 consecutive telepathology QA cases accrued from a single Arizona rural hospital over a 51 month period. Ten university faculty telepathologists served as the case readers. Each telepathologist had an area of subspecialty surgical pathology expertise (i.e. gastrointestinal pathology, dermatopathology, etc.) but functioned largely as a general surgical pathologist while on this telepathology-enabled QA service. They handled all incoming cases during their individual 1-h telepathology sessions, regardless of the nature of the organ systems represented in the real-time incoming stream of outside surgical pathology cases. Results: The 10 participating telepathologists' postAmerican Board of pathology examination experience ranged from 3 to 36 years. This is a surrogate for age. About 91% of incoming cases were immediately signed out regardless of the subspecialty surgical pathologists' area of surgical pathology expertise. One hundred and seventy cases (9.13%) were deferred. Case concurrence rates with the provisional surgical pathology diagnosis of the referring pathologist, for incoming cases, averaged 94.3%, but ranged from 88.46% to 100% for individual telepathologists. Telepathology case deferral rates, for second opinions or immunohistochemistry, ranged from 4.79% to 21.26%. Differences in concordance rates and deferral rates among telepathologists, for incoming cases, were significant but did not correlate with years of experience as a practicing pathologist. Coincidental overlaps of the area of subspecialty surgical pathology expertise with organ-related incoming cases did not influence decisions by the telepathologists to either defer those cases or to agree or disagree with the referring pathologist's provisional diagnoses. Conclusions: Subspecialty surgical pathologists effectively served as general surgical pathologists on a telepathology-based surgical pathology QA service. Concurrence rates with incoming surgical pathology report diagnoses, and case deferral rates, varied significantly among the 10 on-service telepathologists. We found no evidence that the higher deferral rates correlated with improving the accuracy or quality of the surgical pathology reports.

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