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September 1996

Quality Assessment of Skin Biopsy Specimens Referred to Anonymous Consultants

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology, St Louis University Health Sciences Center, St Louis, Mo.

Arch Dermatol. 1996;132(9):1053-1056. doi:10.1001/archderm.1996.03890330067012

Background and Design:  Managed care organizations may direct dermatopathologic specimens to anonymous consultants. I hypothesized that the quality of the consultation decreases when there is no incentive for an anonymous consultant to actively pursue the dermatologist/consumer. Therefore, I examined 364 consecutive specimens that had been directed to anonymous consultants. The specimens were obtained from patients who consulted a university-based dermatology clinic or the office of a collaborating practitioner. The quality of consultation was evaluated in 5 areas: factual correctness, arguable differences in degree, evidence that the history had been read by the consultant, knowledge of dermatologic disease evident in the interpretative aspects of the report, and appropriate direct interaction with the referring physician when indicated.

Results:  There was concordance between the interpretation by anonymous consultants and the findings of my review in 66.8% of cases that involved common dermatopathologic diagnoses. There were errors in fact in 26 cases (7.1%). There were examples of failure to correlate histologic findings with clinical history, apparent lack of understanding of dermatologic disease, and failure to resolve conflicts between the histologic pattern and the clinical information.

Conclusions:  I found a decrease in the quality of biopsy specimen interpretation received from anonymous consultants. Dermatologists need to maintain and/or upgrade their skills in dermatopathology to supervise the quality of interpretation obtained from anonymous consultants.Arch Dermatol. 1996;132:1053-1056

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