Subscribe to Newsletter
Outside the Lab Profession, Training and education

Is It Good to Talk?

We speak a lot about public awareness of pathology (or lack thereof) in The Pathologist; how those in the lab need to stick their head above the parapet and talk more about the fantastic work they do. How they need to take every opportunity to educate medical students in this ever-evolving scientific discipline. How regular communication with other medical professions is imperative to optimizing patient outcomes. This might sound easy to most, but for those in the field, you know that it isn’t. Not only is the profession challenged by changing medical school curricula that seem intent on deprioritizing pathology (check out this month’s Profession article for some tips on how to address this, by the way), but in many, if not most, countries, pathologists are actively discouraged from communicating directly with others – in particular, patients. And this latter point is a highly contentious one.

I attended a meeting this week during which one of the presenters stated quite clearly that it is not a pathologist’s job to communicate a diagnosis directly to a patient because “we’re not equipped for it. We need to leave that job to our clinician colleagues.” In my experience, this is not an uncommon view – while others that I’ve spoken with believe it to be an essential duty of the modern pathologist to be available to patients. This really does appear to have the community split and I’m on a mission to hear and to present both sides of the story.

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of attending some fantastic presentations at the USCAP annual meeting in Seattle, which focused on patient communication and, an even scarier topic… diagnostic error disclosure. The sessions were standing room only and the audience highly engaged. It seems that the community wants some guidance on how to deal with the patient communication dilemma, and when it comes to error disclosure, the complexities that they face increase substantially. Lack of protocol, fear of litigation, reimbursement concerns, communication challenges… all cited as obstacles to effective disclosure of diagnostic errors. Naturally, I had to bring all of this to the attention of our readers. In this month’s cover feature, we have the privilege of speaking with some key figures who are working hard to bring the issues around diagnostic errors, disclosure and communication into the spotlight. As I’m sure you’ll agree, these topics are complex and multifaceted, which is why we’re running our feature over two issues. Here we present the first part. And in the second, I plan to run some of your opinions too, so please do raise your head above that parapet and get in touch; I would love to hear your thoughts!

Fedra Pavlou


Receive content, products, events as well as relevant industry updates from The Pathologist and its sponsors.
Stay up to date with our other newsletters and sponsors information, tailored specifically to the fields you are interested in

When you click “Subscribe” we will email you a link, which you must click to verify the email address above and activate your subscription. If you do not receive this email, please contact us at [email protected].
If you wish to unsubscribe, you can update your preferences at any point.

About the Author
Fedra Pavlou

After graduating with a pharmacology degree, I began my career in scientific publishing and communications. Now with more than 16 years of experience in this field, my career has seen me heading up editorial and writing teams at Datamonitor, Advanstar and KnowledgePoint360 group. My past experiences have taught me something very important – that you have to enjoy working with, and have respect for your colleagues. It’s this that drew me to Texere where I now work with old colleagues and new. Though we are a hugely diverse team, we share several things in common – a real desire to work hard to succeed, to be the best at what we do, never to settle for second best, and to have fun while we do it. I am now honored to serve as Editor of The Pathologist and Editorial Director of Texere Publishing.

Register to The Pathologist

Register to access our FREE online portfolio, request the magazine in print and manage your preferences.

You will benefit from:
  • Unlimited access to ALL articles
  • News, interviews & opinions from leading industry experts
  • Receive print (and PDF) copies of The Pathologist magazine