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August 1997

Interobserver Variability in Dermatopathology

Author Affiliations

Department of Pathology Rochester General Hospital 1425 Portland Ave Rochester, NY 14621

Arch Dermatol. 1997;133(8):1033-1036. doi:10.1001/archderm.1997.03890440117019

IN THIS issue of the Archives, 2 articles address the issue of interobserver variability in diagnostic pathology. Although such studies have been done for several decades, this field is only recently beginning to mature toward a systematic discipline with standardized principles and methods. It is still in a somewhat embryonic state. This editorial will address the general issue of interobserver variability and then analyze these 2 papers.

GENERAL COMMENTS  When there is interobserver variability in diagnostic pathology, it raises complex and emotional issues. The first reaction is usually to ask, "Who's right?"1 After all, a clear and reliable pathology report is needed to guide the management of the patient. Patient care must always be the first concern. The immediate corollary, "Who's wrong?" may raise questions about reliability and convey feelings of anxiety and distrust. If variability is common, especially among experts in research projects, there may be opinions that diagnostic

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