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November 1960

Is the Pathologist Infallible?

Author Affiliations

South Bristol Road Walpole, Me.

Arch Intern Med. 1960;106(5):596-602. doi:10.1001/archinte.1960.03820050008003

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Without any doubt microscopic examination of sections of tissue, when it is carried out by a pathologist who has had superior training and long experience, is a most valuable method of determining the essential character of an inflammatory process or of identifying different kinds of benign or malignant tumors. But because it is the best method available, it must not be inferred that a pathologist's interpretation of tissue changes or his opinion about the identity of a tumor is always accurate. The fact that sections of tissue are examined through a microscope does not eliminate the human element of the pathologist himself.

For several reasons the most competent pathologists cannot always be right in their interpretations or opinions. Variations in training and experience, and differences in circumstances and personal interest, may have led them to devote more time to the study of certain kinds of lesions. Like other human beings,

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