Context.—

Clear communication between pathologists and surgeons during intraoperative consultations is critical for optimal patient care.

Objective.—

To examine the concordance of intraoperative diagnoses recorded in pathology reports to surgeon-dictated operative notes and assess the impact of an intervention on the discrepancy rates.

Design.—

Discrepancies between the intended communication by pathologists and the interpretation by surgeons were characterized as minor with no crucial clinical impact, and major with the potential of altering patient management. After analysis, a corrective intervention was implemented with education, information sharing, and change in protocol, and a comparative analysis was conducted.

Results.—

We examined 223 surgical cases with 578 intraoperative consultations. In 23% (51) of the cases, the intraoperative diagnosis was not recorded in the operative reports. We found minor discrepancies in 34% (59) and major discrepancies in 2% (3) of the remaining cases. Deferrals accounted for 24% (14 of 59) of the minor and 33% (1 of 3) of the major discrepancies. Among the discrepant cases, 56% (35 of 62) were multipart cases, including all major discrepancies. Following intervention, no major discrepancies were found in 101 cases with 186 intraoperative interpretations. The cases with no operative documentation reports decreased from 23% to 16% (16 of 101). Minor discrepancies were found in 11% (9 of 85) of the cases, indicating significant improvement (P < .001).

Conclusions.—

Intraoperative diagnoses can be miscommunicated and/or misinterpreted, possibly impacting intraoperative management, particularly in multipart cases and those involving deferrals. This study highlights the importance of auditing intraoperative communications and addressing the findings through a local intervention.

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Author notes

The authors have no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.