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July 17, 1987

Futurology in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

JAMA. 1987;258(3):378-379. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400030094039

Pathology is most simply defined as "the study of disease." Study of disease has been based on science for hundreds of years, so it has largely used laboratory methods. Thus, we have traditionally defined the practice of pathology as the application of all laboratory sciences to health and disease. Rooted since antiquity in the study of the dead, modern pathology has focused almost entirely on studying disease processes in the living, using many forms of modern technology and systems theory.

Pathologists comprise a small specialty—only 3% of all physicians—and their work engenders virtually no public profile. Most pathologists work in hospital laboratories, and ever-increasing concerns about the misuse of medical resources have focused on items that are easy to tabulate, such as laboratory tests. For these and other reasons, government intrusion into the practice of pathology has been especially marked in recent years, forcing adaptation (not always easily), offering the