Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Efficacy of an incident-reporting system in cellular pathology: a practical experience
  1. Emad A Rakha1,
  2. David Clark2,
  3. Brinder Singh Chohan1,
  4. Maysa El-Sayed3,
  5. Soumadri Sen1,
  6. Liz Bakowski1,
  7. Simon O'Connor1
  1. 1Department of Cellular, Pathology, Nottingham, University Hospitals NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK
  2. 2Department of Pathology, Lincoln County Hospital, Lincoln, UK
  3. 3Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Menofia University, Egypt
  1. Correspondence to Dr Emad Rakha, Department of Histopathology, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust, Nottingham City Hospital Campus, Hucknall Road, Nottingham NG5 1PB, UK; emadrakha{at}


Background and aims Incident reporting (IR) refers to systematic documentation of adverse incidents to facilitate their appropriate investigation and institution of corrective or remedial actions, and provide data to identify risk trends for recurrent problems. Minimisation of errors and reduction in process variation is recognised as an important goal of quality management and is an essential part of continuous quality improvement. Published data on the role IR plays in cellular pathology remains scanty.

Methods In this study, the authors collected and analysed all incidents and adverse events reported in their department over a 2-year period.

Results 584 incidents were reported (0.5% of all cases processed). The majority (59%) occurred in the pre-analytical phase of the laboratory process with 23% in the analytical and 18% in the post-analytical phases. Booking-in and specimen labelling-related incidents were the largest single group (56% of all incidents), prompting further root cause analysis, but no other obvious patterns or trends were identified, and most incidents were followed by corrective actions on an individual basis. Most incidents (79%) posed potential harm, as opposed to causing actual harm to the service or patients. Only 78 cases (14%) posed a major risk to patients, such as specimen loss or mix-up, whereas 27% were associated with moderate risk and 59% with minor or insignificant risk.

Conclusion Major risk incidents are relatively rare in the cellular pathology laboratory. IR should be included as an important component of a risk management strategy and clinical governance framework.

  • Cellular pathology
  • quality management incident reports
  • breast
  • genetics
  • oncology
  • clinical audit
  • histopathology
  • laboratory management
  • quality control
  • computer systems
  • diagnostics
  • quality assurance

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests None.

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