Non-Gynecologic Cytology Turnaround Time

Jones BA, Novis DA. Non-Gynecologic Cytology Turnaround Time: A College of America Pathologists Q-Probes Study of 180 Laboratories. Arch Pathol Lab Med: 2001;125:1279-1284.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the turnaround time for nongynecologic cytology and to identify laboratory and specimen characteristics associated with variations in turnaround time.

DESIGN AND SETTING: Prospective evaluation of nongynecologic cytology turnaround times in 180 laboratories.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Nongynecologic cytology case turnaround time.

RESULTS: Participants from 180 laboratories submitted turnaround times for 16 950 nongynecologic cytology cases and submitted information describing their laboratories’ practice characteristics relating to the processing of nongynecologic cytology specimens. Half of the participating laboratories had mean receipt to report turnaround times of 1.6 calendar days or less and were able to complete 90% of their cases within 3.0 calendar days. Ten percent of participants had mean turnaround times greater than 3.2 days and required 6.0 or more days to report 90% of their cases. Longer turnaround times were associated with processing fluid and fine-needle aspiration specimens, issuing atypical/suspicious for malignancy and nondiagnostic diagnoses, having cytotechnologist students screen slides, having to contact the physician offices for additional information, having to retrieve prior case material for review, and having to perform cell blocks and/or special stains.

CONCLUSION: There is an opportunity for laboratories to shorten nongynecologic turnaround time by altering certain laboratory practices.