An accurate and complete pathology diagnosis is the cornerstone of targeted treatment decisions and cancer care excellence. Synoptic reporting in pathology, using the standardized College of American Pathologists cancer checklist, ensures that all the important pathology details of a patient’s cancer are reported in a standardized fashion. This in turn allows clearer communication among health care professionals about crucial diagnostic and prognostic elements that guide cancer care decision making and optimal patient care.
Although still considered accurate, the current pathology reporting system varies slightly in structure and content depending on the individual hospital. As such, when pathology reports are transferred from one institution to another, the healthcare team may not find the same information in the same place. This could increase the chances of missed information or incomplete reporting.
In today’s health care environment, cancer patients often receive their care from health professionals across different hospitals. The use of a standardized pathology report in each hospital within the RCN will allow the patient’s health care team to easily locate relevant pathology data, independent of where the pathology report originated.
There are additional advantages to synoptic reporting in pathology. The most significant include the following:
1) Efficient future retrieval of pathology data for clinical research
2) Application of quality assurance programs to assess the completeness and accuracy of pathology reports
3) Identification of opportunities for improvement
4) Data input for tumor registries
Initial efforts of the RCN has focused on implementing synoptic reporting in pathology for the four most common cancers: lung, colon, breast and prostate. With the necessary technical foundation in development, as well as engagement of RCN pathologists, synoptic reporting in pathology for the four major cancers will be implemented by the summer of this year. As implementation progresses, each cancer type treated within the RCN will be introduced in a step-wise fashion until all cancer patient records have a synoptic pathology report.
This initiative has required a tremendous amount of collaboration and learning among all pathologists within the RCN, proving their dedication to enhancing the care of cancer patients. The introduction of synoptic reporting in pathology will prove to be a significant step in the RCN goal to achieve world-class status for the benefit of the patients it serves. (contact Tony Teti)