Anatomic Pathology

Anatomic pathology is a medical specialty that is concerned with the diagnosis of disease based on the macroscopic, microscopic, biochemical, immunologic and molecular examination of organs and tissues. It is one of two branches of pathology, the other being clinical pathology, the diagnosis of disease through the laboratory analysis of bodily fluids and/or tissues. Often, pathologists practice both anatomical and clinical pathology, a combination known as general pathology.

Anatomic pathology relates to the processing, examination, and diagnosis of surgical specimens by a physician trained in pathological diagnosis. Clinical pathology is the division that processes the test requests more familiar to the general public, such as blood cell counts, coagulation studies, urinalysis, blood glucose level determinations and throat cultures. Its subsections include chemistry, hematology, microbiology, immunology, urinalysis and blood bank.

Anatomical pathology is itself divided in subspecialties, the main ones being surgical pathology (breast, gynecological, endocrine, gastrointestinal, GU, soft tissue, head and neck, dermatopathology), neuropathology, hematopathology, cytopathology, and forensic pathology.

Anatomic pathology is one of the two primary certifications offered by the American Board of Pathology (the other is clinical pathology) and one of three primary certifications offered by the American Osteopathic Board of Pathology. To be certified in anatomic pathology, the trainee must complete four years of medical school followed by three years of residency training. Many U.S. pathologists are certified in both anatomic pathology and clinical pathology, which requires a total of four years of residency. After completing residency, many pathologists enroll in further years of fellowship training to gain expertise in a subspecialty.

Anatomic pathologists usually work in hospitals, investigating the effects of disease on the human body via autopsies and microscopic examination of tissues, cells, and other specimens. Medical laboratory directors are responsible for the sophisticated laboratory tests on samples of tissues or fluids and the quality and accuracy of the tests. The practice of pathology is most often conducted in community hospitals or in academic medical centers, where patient care, diagnostic services, and research go hand in hand.

AP Groups Can Protect Revenue, Pathologist Compensation

CEO SUMMARY: Many anatomic pathology groups are watching their revenue decline and margins shrink on the same or greater case volume. These trends make it imperative to have a deeper understanding of the operational and financial variables that contribute to stability in the group’s fi…

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Respected Pathology Consultant Laurence J. Peterson Dies

Many pathologists currently leading academic pathology programs and private pathology groups got some of their best business advice from Laurence J. Peterson, CPA. For more than 30 years, Peterson was involved in the operation of both clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups throughout the…

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Anatomic Pathology Profession Faces Challenges, Opportunities

CEO SUMMARY: For 10 years, three primary trends have reshaped the anatomic pathology profession. They are declining reimbursement, competition from physicians establishing in-office pathology labs, and a host of new government laws and regulations. More changes are coming, predicts one bu…

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Cover-Up Charged After Alleged Surgical Pathology Error

CEO SUMMARY: In an explosive civil case, documents show a pathologist erroneously diagnosed a patient as having cancer of an essential body organ and that the organ was removed unnecessarily, stated an attorney for the whistleblower. The patient has not yet been told of the misdiagnosis o…

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UPMC-KingMed Digital Pathology Venture Improves Patient Care

CEO SUMMARY: Many experts think that digital pathology will make it possible to create international pathology subspecialty referral networks. Now in its fifth year, a partnership between UPMC’s Pathology Department and KingMed Diagnostics of China uses telepathology to give Chinese pat…

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More AP Consolidation: Aurora Buys Two Groups

CEO SUMMARY: Seeing the changes overtaking pathology practices, Brazos Valley Pathology decided to sell two of its group practices to Aurora Diagnostics. Last month’s transaction was not designed to fix financial problems nor was it because of retiring pathologists. Rather, it …

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Aurora Diagnostics Acquires Two Pathology Group Practices

TWO MORE PATHOLOGY GROUPS gave up their independence in recent weeks. Both groups were acquired byAurora Diagnostics of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Early in June, Aurora announced the acquisition of Mid-Atlantic Pathology Services, Inc. (MAPS), of Sterling, Virgini…

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Local Labs vs. Central Labs Assessed in HER2 Test Study

WHEN IT COMES TO HER2NEU TESTING, a study of accuracy just published by the journal Cancer may raise interesting questions for pathology groups across the nation. “Assessing the discordance rate between local and central HER2 testing in women with locally determined HER2- negative breast …

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Anatomic Pathology Business Faces Uncertain Future

CEO SUMMARY: There’s a day of reckoning on the way for the traditional business model of the private pathology group practice. At most risk are smaller pathology groups that typically have five or fewer pathologists. Blame it on the reduced prices that Medicare and private insurers are …

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Urologists Weigh in on Prostate Biopsy Testing

CEO SUMMARY: Based on an impressive number of 4,230,129 vials collected from 437,937 biopsies, the new study is expected to add fuel to the fire of the ongoing debate about the appropriate number of prostate biopsies physicians should collect and refer to pathology labs for cancer testing…

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