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  • Michael Misialek, MD

10 Things You Never Knew a Pathologist Did


I am a Pathologist. I am not Quincy, nor am I CSI. You probably have never met me, though I likely know you well. I have spent hours studying the slides on your tissue specimens, or overseeing the laboratory which tests your blood samples. I am an important member of the care team. Pathologists are physicians and diagnostic experts. As a pathologist, our work touches every patient, in every stage of life.

To better understand the importance of the pathologist, below is a top 10 list of the crucial roles a pathologist fulfills. These are just a few of the countless examples of how pathologists deliver value.

1.Your pathologist provides the diagnosis of your biopsy

All treatment begins with a diagnosis. It is a pathologist that makes this diagnosis. Any specimen that comes from a patient will be seen by a pathologist. Whether it is a tissue biopsy from a doctor’s office, the operating room or a pap smear, your pathologist will be the first to see it. Even samples for chemistry tests, blood counts, microbiology cultures and testing for transfusions…these are all overseen by the pathologist.

2.Pathologists provide crucial information to help prevent diagnostic errors

Errors can result in misdiagnosis, delay in diagnosis and be a cause of patient harm. Almost 70% of information in the medical record is said to come from the lab. Pathologists manage this tremendous amount of information and help ensure providers have access to the right information, for the right patient at the right time.

3.Pathologists are leaders in quality control

Pathologists ensure the accuracy and precision of laboratory testing to deliver the highest quality results for your care. The field of pathology was among the first in medicine to use the principles of quality assurance and quality control. Pathologists have developed quality control programs for critical and routine testing.

4.Pathologists are crucial in the management of chronic diseases

Diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes require close lab monitoring and the contributions of the pathologist in diagnosis, treatment and follow up.

5.Rapid molecular testing to guide infectious disease management

Using rapid molecular testing to diagnose infections and help guide the choice of treatment is made possible by pathologists. This is important not only in the outpatient setting, but also inpatients, the Emergency Department and ICU.

6.Pathologists are key members of the infection control team

They help monitor infections within the hospital, helping to minimize hospital acquired infections and limiting the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

7.Pathologists ensure approrpiate utilization

Pathologists help create cost effective algorithms for the testing of many diseases. They monitor lab test utilization, adding to the value equation by lowering cost of care and helping improve outcomes. They help address problems of both over-utilization and under-utilization.

8.Ensuring the safety of America’s blood supply

Pathologists provide leadership in the blood bank. They oversee the safe donation and transfusion of blood products.

9.Aid in the creation of clinical decision support tools to guide prevention of complications such as thromboembolic events and infections

Pathologists help prevent adverse events while in the hospital, including blood clots and hospital acquired infections.

10.Testing algorithms and expert interpretations to manage complicated conditions, such as fluid and electrolyte imbalances

The management of complex medical conditions of patients in the hospital and ICU is made possible through the assistance of pathologists.

It is time to meet your pathologist. Request a copy of your pathology or lab report. Download your own infographic and learn how patients are healthier because of pathologists.

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