Traditionally, pathology reports have been textual, with a high degree of variability. In part, they miss some of the information needed, e.g. for therapy decisions. To meet all requirements, it would be helpful to have a tool providing reminders of the necessary data and facilitating the transfer of these data into a pathology information system (PIS). Here, we describe a TNM-adapted toolset including a PIS-integrated structured template that contributes to improving pathology reports of prostatectomy specimens.Methods and results:
All prostatectomy reports between January 2002 and August 2010 (n = 1049) were classified into descriptive reports (DRs) (n = 411), structured reports (SRs) arranged according to tumour spread, lymph node status, and surgical margin status (n = 333), and template-based synoptic reports (TBSRs) (n = 305). The report types were compared with regard to the content of 11 organ-specific essential data (ED) items crucial for exact TNM classification, therapy decisions, or prognostication. All 11 ED items were included in 2.7% of DRs, 43.5% of SRs and 97.2% of TBSRs, with a statistically highly significant difference (P < 0.001).Conclusions:
SRs, and particularly TBSRs, are advantageous as compared with DRs regarding the content of ED and the clarity of the data layout. The use of TBSRs leads to a reduction in failed data transfer and therefore to an increase in the quality of pathology reports.