Words from the European Society of Pathology
Sometimes you can just read something and it makes you humble to the core. Prof. Han van Krieken (President of the European Society of Pathology (ESP)) achieved just that. If you haven’t read the latest ESP newsletter I would strongly advise you to do so here.
Mistakes do happen
I’m a strong believer in personalized medicine and the growing attempt to be as accurate as possible either through validated NGS panels or new technologies such as cfDNA or serial monitoring of patients’ cfDNA such as in my interview with Lao Saal
With everything that happens in the world of pathology one thing remains the same: it is the pathologist behind his or her (increasingly often digital) microscope who determines the fate of a human being, at least that is how it experienced by patients.
Recently, I had the sad opportunity to talk with patients on a mistake made in my laboratory. Such a mistake has deep impact on the patient, but also on all the personal involved. Even though I felt quite bad about what happened under my responsibility, I was warmed by the reaction of patients, colleagues and the board of the hospital, who all felt that we all do our utmost best and that mistakes may happen. It made me realize once again how large our responsibility is, that really the fate of a human being is in our hands.
Therefore, we cannot accept high levels of mistakes in tests we do, like RAS mutational testing for colorectal cancer, high levels of interobserver variation in grading, like Gleason, or take too much time to make our diagnosis for patients with high levels of anxiety. Our role in the diagnostic process is seen more clearly by patients and pharmaceutical industry, which is a sign of our increasing relevance, which is a good thing. But indeed, our responsibilities increase at the same time.
Han van Krieken is right, and I covered this in a previous blog (below’s infographic)
Prof. Han van Krieken finishes his article as he starts it, powerfully:
I know you all feel sometimes the heavy burden of responsibility and have moments of doubt as to whether it is possible to avoid mistakes all the time. Well, it is not, but you can prevent them from happening as much as possible. Therefore, take time for vacation, so that you do not become overloaded and after that go to the Belgrade congress to absorb all the news that will increase your power as pathologist.
Power to the pathologist. ECP 2015 in Serbia – I’ll be there, will you?