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The Interpretation of Phrases Used to Describe Uncertainty in Pathology Reports

By Malcolm Galloway and Taj Taiyeb


Histopathological reports frequently contain phrases describing the degree of uncertainty of the diagnosis. We examined the interpretations of such terms by cellular pathologists, other doctors, and medical students. 203 respondents estimated the degree of certainty they would associate with the following phrases in a cellular pathology report: the features are indicative of; raise the possibility of; are compatible with; are probably those of; are diagnostic of; are in keeping with; and are suggestive of. For all phrases assessed other than “diagnostic of”, all groups showed a wide spread in the interpreted probability. For example, the probability associated with the term “in keeping with” by individual consultant pathologists ranged from 25 to 100%. This study demonstrates that pathologists vary widely in how they interpret the meaning of phrases describing probability that are commonly used in pathology reports. We suggest that this potential risk is highlighted during pathology training

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: SAGE-Hindawi Access to Research
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Provided by: PubMed Central

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