Anatomic pathology databases and patient safety.
This AHRQ-funded project describes the development of a national Web-based anatomic pathology database and how the information captured provided opportunities for intervention. Investigators first categorized the data into error types and frequency and also estimated the discrepancy rates with interpretation of recorded specimens. Subsequent root cause analyses identified system factors that contributed to the errors, and the authors share several quality improvement strategies implemented in response. While the study data derive only from self-reported institutional errors, the opportunity to expand the process to additional institutions may identify shared system deficiencies or specific error types that warrant greater attention. The process outlined resembles in many ways the efforts of reporting systems in general as a mechanism to learn and improve from past experiences with errors.