Short Courses and Special Courses

SC32 – Blazing a New Trail: Communication for Pathologists in the Era of Transparency and Collaborative Medicine

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
This Short Course session includes up to a one-hour break.

Session Credits:

3 CME and 3 SAMs


Yael K. Heher, MD, MPH, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Suzanne M. Dintzis, MD, PhD, University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, WA

Course Description

The Institute of Medicine's 1999 landmark report To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System revolutionized healthcare by shining a light on medical error. Seventeen years later, the IOM’s recent follow-up report Improving Diagnosis in Health Care specifically calls out diagnostic error and names pathologists. It outlines goals for transparency and learning following error, and issues a call to action for better communication in the era of transparency and collaborative medicine. Laposata and Cohen’s 2016 editorial It’s Our Turn: Implications for Pathologists from the Institute of Medicine’s Report on Diagnostic Error underlines the urgent need for change and learning in the pathology community, beckoning pathologists to acquire and refine skills around error management, process improvement, and communication. In addition, recently changed ACCME and ACGME requirements and established Joint Commission and CAP requirements all demand involvement in patient safety and quality improvement for pathologists.

Despite this compelling movement, educational opportunities and practical guidelines for error resolution and communication are conspicuously absent from our community.

All pathology laboratories experience errors and the current healthcare environment increasingly calls on pathologists to participate in their workup and disclosure. Neither pathology trainees nor practicing pathologists have an educational source they can rely on to seek out concrete steps towards safety, transparency and robust communication. This constitutes a significant professional practice gap that will be addressed by this course.

Target audience: General and subspecialty pathologists and trainees; medical directors; laboratory managers and directors (any pathology team member).

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this educational activity, the learner will be able to:

  • Describe the main goals outlined in the IOM report on diagnostic error
  • Define effective communication using concepts of communication theory in health care
  • List specific published criteria for effective communication in anatomic pathology
  • Recognize the role of transparency in improving outcomes in anatomic pathology
  • Predict and address barriers in to communication of pathology errors
  • Discuss and resolve common communication scenarios following errors in anatomic pathology
  • Describe the cultural change needed to propel pathologists forward as communicators and active participants in patient safety
  • Apply skills acquired to personally effectively communicate with patients, pathology and clinical team members
8:00 AM Introduction to the IOM Report Goals and Communication Concepts in Healthcare
8:30 AM Effective Communication in Pathology
9:00 AM Disclosure Of Harmful Pathology Errors: A Concrete How-To Guide
9:30 AM Break
10:30 AM Simulation Role-Play Exercise In Pathology Error Communication
11:00 AM Wrap-Up And Open Discussion
11:30 AM Questions And Discussion


Continuing Medical Education and Maintenance of Certification

The United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology designates this live activity for a maximum of 3 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

The USCAP is approved by the American Board of Pathology (ABP) to offer Self-Assessment credits (SAMs) for the purpose of meeting the ABP requirements for Maintenance of Certification (MOC). Physicians must take and pass the post-test in order to claim SAMs credit.

Physicians can earn a maximum of 3 SAM credit hours.


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