Use of key performance indicators in histological dissection

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Abstract

Aims

Reports into standards in the National Health Service and quality in pathology have focused on the way we work in pathology and how to provide assurance that this is of a high standard. There are a number of external quality assurance schemes covering pathology and histopathology specifically; however, there is no scheme covering the process of histological surgical dissection. This is an area undergoing development, emerging from the sole preserve of medically qualified pathologists to a field populated by a number of highly trained biomedical scientists, but remains without any formal quality assurance.

Methods

This work builds on Barnes, taking the guidance of the Royal College of Pathologists (RCPath)and Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS)to form a series of key performance indicators relating to dissection. These were developed for use as an indicator of individual practice, highlighting areas of variation, weakness or strength. Once identified, a feedback event provided opportunities to address these errors and omissions, or to enable areas of strength to be shared.

Results

The data obtained from the checklists demonstrate a large variation in practice at the outset of this study. The use of the checklists alone served to reduce this variation in practice, the addition of the training event showed further reduction in variation. The combination of these two tools was an effective method for enhancing standardisation of practice.

Conclusions

The results of this work show that training events serve to reduce variation in practice by, and between, dissectors, driving up standards in dissection—directly addressing the needs of the modern pathology service.

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