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Retrospective review of diagnostic histopathology samples in research projects: transparency should be the practice with respect to diagnostic discordance
  1. Roger Bjugn1,
  2. Bettina Casati2
  1. 1Biobank and Medical Registry Unit, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2Department of Pathology, Akershus University Hospital, Lørenskog, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Dr Roger Bjugn, Biobank and Medical Registry Unit, Oslo University Hospital, Kirkeveien 166, NO-0407 Oslo, Norway; rogbju{at}


Retrospective review of diagnostic histopathology samples in secondary research projects may generate cases with discordance in diagnosis between the pathologist originally signing out the sample and the reviewer. In this article the authors discuss ethical and legal issues involved in secondary review and propose how diagnostic discrepancies in research projects can be handled. Research participants have the right to know about and control the handling of personal data. Researchers have a duty to inform research participants about research findings of relevance to the current or future health or quality of life. Such feedback is to be provided within a healthcare framework. The authors recommend that pathology laboratories should require researchers to provide feedback on diagnostic discrepancies of potentially clinical significance in secondary research projects using retrospective review of diagnostic histopathology material. The pathology laboratory in charge of the archival material should be responsible for the follow-up on such cases.

  • Biomedical research
  • ethics
  • quality assurance
  • research protocols
  • research subjects
  • audit
  • ethics
  • histopathology
  • quality assurance

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.