Areas of Confusion in Pathologist-Clinician Communication as it Relates to Understanding the Vulvar Pathology Report

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Abstract

Objectives

Pathologist-clinician communication has been an ongoing topic in the literature. Pathology reports are geared to assisting clinicians with patient therapy, but sometimes there are barriers to communication. This survey aims to explore clinicians' understanding of their pathology reports in the membership of the International Society for Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD).

Methods

An email survey was sent to all members of the ISSVD.

Results

Surveys were emailed to 397 members, with 91 responding (23 %). Most (76%) of the respondents were gynecologists, with 13% dermatologists and 6% advanced-practice nurses. Thirty-nine percent of respondents did not always understand their pathology reports, 62% did not know the difference between levels and recuts, 71% were unclear as to why levels rather than recuts would be ordered, and 26% was not familiar with the term “spongiosis.” Over 94% read the gross description on a pathology report. Over 90% reported speaking with their pathologist, which they considered important. They considered having a pathologist with specialty expertise important.

Conclusions

Clinician members of the ISSVD are particularly attuned to the importance of pathology consultation in the care of women with vulvovaginal conditions. There are still areas for potential improvement in educational efforts, particularly providing information on how pathology laboratory processes may impact the report, as well as in further education in dermatopathology terminology for those unfamiliar.

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