Having an in-house pathology lab guarantees that Premier’s labwork is done promptly and efficiently—with two pathologists reviewing every “positive” specimen— so our patients won’t have to endure anxious waits to learn about the next step in their treatment.
What is the major benefit of having a dedicated “in-house” pathology department? On this question, the physicians at Premier Medical Group are all agreed: The Time Factor.
“If I do a colonoscopy or endoscopy to remove a polyp or biopsy a lesion and I expect it might be a cancer, I can tell our lab I need the results tomorrow, not two days from now,” says Dr. Sunil Khurana of the GI Division. “This is especially significant if there’s a weekend approaching. Let’s say you do a colonoscopy on Thursday and you take a biopsy. If it goes to an outside lab, the earliest you’ll get it back is Monday or Tuesday. And that leaves the patient thinking—for five days—do I have it, do I not have it, what do I do? In the great scheme of things, perhaps four or five days doesn’t really matter for the course of the cancer. But psychologically and emotionally, it matters a lot. Four days is a lot of time to spend worrying. With the fast turnaround of our pathology department, we can tell our patient something decisive on Friday morning.”
The second major benefit is in the realm of quality, and this quality takes several forms. First, having two pathologists on staff means that specimens that come back positive for cancer, or anything abnormal, are double read. When a cancer-positive report comes back to a physician, we know it has been discussed and confirmed or singled out for further examination.
Our confidence in the quality of the pathology reports is enhanced by the fact that our reading pathologist has 25-years experience in reviewing gastrointestinal and genitourinary specimens. In a large hospital or a big lab, pathologists handle a wide range of specimens, including skin lesions, colon tissue, lung biopsies, etc. A big medical center may have subspecialist pathologists on staff, but in a community hospital, it’s usual for the pathologist to examine everything and anything.
At Premier, concentration on GI and GU specimens allows the pathologist to acquire and refine the necessary medical knowledge and diagnostic skills needed to make the right call, over and over again.
Our close relationship with the pathology lab gives physicians the opportunity to communicate directly with the lab’s tech staff. When a biopsy is sent out to a commercial lab, all you can expect is that they’ll “process” it. At Premier, if something about the biopsy, or the circumstance of taking it, looks or feels “different,” the physician can ask for a custom review that takes anomalies into account.
We are also able to work with our pathologist to customize testing parameters that provide information that may be more meaningful to the physician, and patient treatment, than the standard protocol.