Effects of clinical service reorganisation on cellular pathology workload.
Winter S., Cox GJ., Corbridge R., Chaplin AJ., Millard PR., Shah KA.
AIMS: To assess changes in volume and complexity of cellular pathology workload after clinical service reorganisation and alterations in pathology reporting practices, and to identify objective measures of change applicable to all cellular pathology departments. The ear, nose, and throat (ENT), head and neck (HN) specialty was chosen for assessment. METHODS: Cellular pathology workload from the ENT-HN surgical specialty was assessed numerically and the complexity in examination of cancer resection specimens was evaluated. Medical and technical time inputs in the reporting of ENT-HN cancer resections were measured prospectively, and the histological and cytological workload arising from the management of such cases was obtained. RESULTS: The 88.83% increase in ENT-HN specimens contrasted with a 13.53% increase in total surgical workload. Substantial increases in work complexity were found when measured as blocks/slides for each case and number of histochemical/immunohistochemical requests. On average, examination of one ENT-HN cancer case consumed 55% of one pathologist's work session and over one 10th of a technician's working week. On average, each cancer generated 3.3 histological and 1.06 cytological specimens. CONCLUSIONS: Evidence is provided of the increase in cellular pathology workload and in its complexity. This study lists objective measures of complexity applicable to all pathology subspecialties. Given the workforce crisis and expanding clinical needs, realistic workload calculations should include measurement of complexity and not just volumes.