Clinical Pathology

Changes in Surgical Pathology Case Volume and Amendment Rates During the COVID-19 Pandemic



Surgical pathology volume decreased during the peak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We looked at the 4 months with the greatest reduction in surgical pathology volume during the COVID-19 pandemic and compared them with those same months in 2019 to determine changes in specimen volume. We compared the amendment rates during those periods and types of amendments issued (identification [ID], report defect [RD], diagnostic information [DI]).


All pathology reports between March to June 2019 and March to June 2020 were extracted from the pathology information system. All amendments issued were extracted over the same period and then subclassified by two pathologists.


There was a 52.1% reduction in surgical pathology volume between the 4-month periods in 2019 and 2020 (P = .04). The amendment rate was 0.9% in 2019 compared with 1.4% in 2020, representing a 65.5% increase in amendments overall. There was a 53.3% reduction in amendments issued for ID, a 3.8% reduction in RD, and a 23.2% increase in amendments issued for DI. The change in amendments was not statistically significant.


These findings suggest that a reduction in workload would not improve error rates. The circumstances of the pandemic highlight the many factors contributing to error rates in surgical pathology.

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