Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.
Turnaround time of laboratory results is important for customer satisfaction. The College of AmericanPathologists' checklist requires an analytic turnaround time of 2 days or less for most routine cases and lets every hospital define what a routine specimen is. The objective of this study was to analyze which factors impact turnaround time of nonbiopsy surgical pathology specimens. We calculated the turnaround time from receipt to verification of results (adjusted for weekends and holidays) for all nonbiopsy surgical specimens during a 2-week period. Factors studied included tissue type, number of slides per case, decalcification, immunohistochemistry, consultations with other pathologists, and diagnosis. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed. A total of 713 specimens were analyzed, 551 (77%) were verified within 2 days and 162 (23%) in 3 days or more. Lung, gastrointestinal, breast, and genitourinary specimens showed the highest percentage of cases being signed out in over 3 days. Diagnosis of malignancy (including staging of the neoplasia), consultation with otherpathologists, having had a frozen section, and use of immunohistochemical stains were significantly associated with increased turnaround time in univariate analysis. Decalcification was not associated with increased turnaround time. In multivariate analysis, consultation with other pathologists, use of immunohistochemistry, diagnosis of malignancy, and the number of slides studied continued to be significantly associated with prolonged turnaround time. Our findings suggest that diagnosis of malignancy is central to significantly prolonging the turnaround time for surgical pathology specimens, thus institutions that serve cancer centers will have longer turnaround time than those that do not.