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CytoJournal 2004,  1:3

The big problem of the missing cytology slides

Department of Pathology, L471, Oregon Health and Sciences University, Portland, Oregon 97239, USA

Correspondence Address:
Ken M Gatter
Department of Pathology, L471, Oregon Health and Sciences University, Portland, Oregon 97239
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.1186/1742-6413-1-3

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Cytology slides are often unique and irreplaceable. Unlike surgical pathology cases, where additional paraffin sections can be cut, cytology slides often cannot be duplicated because there are only a few direct smears or the diagnostic material is present on a single slide. Cytology slides are often "sent out" to other physicians, laboratories or hospitals, typically so that the pathologist at the institution where the patient will receive treatment can review the slides. Less often, a cytology lab sends out the slides for a second opinion or as part of the discovery process in a lawsuit, where they may or may not be defendants. Rarely, unique and irreplaceable cytology slides are lost. This article presents a hypothetical scenario that is based on reported state appellate court decisions. The article discusses some of the legal issues that will affect the defendant cytologist/cytology lab and the "expert cytologist," and suggests some steps a cytologist/cytology lab can take to minimize the risk of repercussions from a lost unique and irreplaceable cytology slide.


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