Jones BA, Novis DA. Follow-up of abnormal gynecologic cytology: a College of American Pathologists Q-Probes study of 16,132 cases from 306 laboratories. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2000; 124:665-71. See Editorial: Austin RM. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2000; 124:1113-4.
OBJECTIVES: To measure the percentage of women with abnormal gynecologic cytology who have follow-up within 1 year and to identify patient and laboratory characteristics associated with higher percentages of follow-up.
DESIGN AND SETTING: Retrospective identification of patients with abnormal cervicovaginal cytology and identification of the initial clinical follow-up activity during the 12 months following the cytologic diagnosis.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Percentage of women receiving follow-up.
RESULTS: Three hundred six laboratories reported follow-up information on 16 132 patients with gynecologic cytology diagnoses of carcinoma, high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion, low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion, or glandular intraepithelial lesion. The following percentages of women received follow-up within 1 year: 85.6% of patients with cytologic diagnoses of carcinoma, 87.2% with diagnoses of high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion, 82.7% with diagnoses of low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion, and 84.9% with diagnoses of glandular intraepithelial lesion. Within 6 months, 82.2% of patients with cytologic diagnoses of carcinoma, 82.4% with diagnoses of high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion, 71.9% with diagnoses of low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion, and 74.7% with diagnoses of glandular intra-epithelial lesion received follow-up. Overall, 90. 8% of patients who received follow-up within the 1-year time frame of this study had their follow-up completed within 6 months. Specific follow-up activities and their frequencies are listed for each diagnostic category. Patients 30 years old or younger and pregnant patients had lower follow-up percentages.
CONCLUSIONS: With less than 83% of patients with high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion or carcinoma cytology findings having available documentation of follow-up within 6 months, and less than 88% within 1 year, there is room for improvement in this area of health care. Monitoring and critical analysis of the follow-up process is a starting point for improvement.