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Pathology and patient safety: the critical role of pathology informatics in error reduction and quality initiatives

      Pathology is entering a new era where it will need to mobilize new resources to face the challenges posed by the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) and Rand Corporation's call to arms for patient safety [
      ,
      • McGlynn E.A.
      • Asch S.M.
      • Adams J.
      • Keesey J.
      • Hicks J.
      • DeCristofaro A.
      • et al.
      The quality of health care delivered to adults in the United States.
      ]. In 1999 the IOM reported in “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System” [
      ] that the medical community was responsible for many serious errors in the delivery of care. The focus of the report was on “system” errors, and it was very weak in its dealings with diagnostic errors. However, the report, in a very pointed way, implicated the lack of clear-cut clinical documentation and the lack of standards (both in vocabularies and in common data elements) as key factors in many errors. The report has had a broad impact on health care delivery and patient safety research. A review of the implications of the IOM report for pathology by Sirota [
      • Sirota R.L.
      The Institutes of Medicine's report on medicine: implications for pathology.
      ] in 2000 lays the foundation for the central thesis of this article. It is the authors' goal to describe how pathology informatics can play a critical role in the detection, prevention, and correction of errors.
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