What many of us are doing or should be doing in clinical pathology: A list of the activities of the pathologist in the clinical laboratory

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Mr. Paul Mango, Chief Operating Officer of a hospital-based clinical laboratory network in Pittsburgh, recently performed a survey of patients presenting for phlebotomy. The survey included the question, 'What does a pathologist do?' The results were that 50% of the patients had no idea what a pathologist did, and 30% of the patients stated that pathologists examined dead bodies. It is not surprising that there is a limited understanding by patients of the activities of pathologists because patients do not usually see pathologists. However, beyond autopsy and surgical pathology, the activities of pathologists are also not well known to nonpathologist physicians and hospital administrators. A poor understanding of activities in clinical pathology have placed these clinical responsibilities of the pathologist under particular scrutiny for cost reduction. The quantitation of output from anatomic pathology, in number of slides reviewed or number of autopsies performed, is objective and easily understood. As noted in the list of clinical pathology activities that follows, the responsibilities within the clinical laboratory are highly diverse and, if the pathologist handles them successfully, highly contributory to patient care. Thus, it is timely that a compilation of activities in clinical pathology be issued for review by the pathologist community. I would hope that this list will serve as a starting point for a universally accepted group of activities that describes clinical pathology today and that it will be useful for pathologists to make their significant contributions in the clinical laboratory apparent to administrators, fellow physicians, and patients. The clinical laboratory responsibilities should also be valuable to directors of residency training programs to focus training in clinical pathology toward the development of currently desirable expertise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-573
Number of pages3
JournalAmerican journal of clinical pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical laboratory
  • Laboratory director
  • Laboratory medicine
  • Residency training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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