Errors in Surgical Pathology Reports: a Study from a Major Center in Pakistan


Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Histopathology, Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan


Background: Errors in surgical pathology diagnosis can have serious consequences for the patient. Since the final product of a surgical pathology lab is the report, errors can be picked by reviewing reports of cases. Aim: To determine the frequency and types of error in surgical pathology reports of cases signed out in 2014 in a laboratory in Karachi, Pakistan. Materials and Methods: All surgical pathology reports in which changes were made in the original report after sign out and an amended report was issued were included. Errors included: (1) misinterpretations; (2) missing critical information; (3) erroneous critical information; (4) misidentification; and (5) typographic errors. Results: Errors were identified in 210 cases (0.37%). These comprised 199 formalin fixed specimens and 11 frozen sections. The latter represented 3.8% of a total of 2,170 frozen sections. Of the 11 frozen section errors, 10 were misinterpretations. Of the 199 permanent specimens, 99 (49.7%) were misinterpretations, 65 (32.7%) belonged to missing critical information category, 8 (4%) belonged to erroneous critical information category, 8(4%) were misidentifications, 16(8%) were typographic errors while 3 cases (1.5%) were other errors. Most misinterpretations occurred in the gastro intestinal, liver and pancreato biliary tract (23.2%) and breast (13.1%). Another 87 cases were reviewed on the clinicians' request. However diagnosis after review remained the same as the original diagnosis. In 49 out of these (56.3%), additional workup was performed at the time of the review. Conclusions: Our findings were similar to other published studies. We need to develop documented procedures for timely review of cases to detect errors.