The use of quality indicators for assessing radical prostatectomy specimens

Pascal James Imperato, Jerry Waisman, Marcia Wallen, Veronica Pryor, Harriet Starr, Mary Rojas, Kathleen Terry, Kathleen Giardelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The information contained in pathology reports of radical prostatectomy specimens is critically important to treating physicians for selecting adjuvant therapy, evaluating therapy, estimating prognosis, and analyzing outcomes. This information is also of importance to patients and their families. In recent years, the Cancer Committee of the College of American Pathologists and the Association of Directors of Anatomic and Surgical Pathology developed suggested protocols for reporting the findings on radical prostatectomy specimens. The objectives of this study were to assess radical prostatectomy-specimen reports by using quality indicators derived from existing suggested protocols and to thereby assist pathologists in improving the quality of their reports on such specimens. A retrospective chart review of 554 cases for the second 6-month period of 1996 focused on 10 quality indicators: submission of a frozen section; location of the adenocarcinoma; proportion of the specimen involved by adenocarcinoma; perineural involvement; vascular involvement; seminal vesicle involvement; periprostatic fat status; number of nodes submitted; status of nodes; and prostate intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN). The findings of this study were shared with the pathology departments in all hospitals in New York State. In addition, the 113 hospitals from which the 554 cases were drawn were given their institution-specific data. Teleconferences were held with the 37 hospitals that accounted for 72.4% of all cases. These conferences included directors of pathology and laboratories and focused on the aggregate statewide findings. The presence of quality indicators in reports varied from a mean of 14.8% (periprostatic fat) to a mean of 85.9% (seminal vesicle involvement). For all hospitals, 4 indicators (proportion of the specimen involved by adenocarcinoma, vascular involvement, periprostatic fat status, and PIN) were included in fewer than 50% of cases. These 4 quality indicators and an additional 3 others (submission of a frozen section, perineural involvement, and the number of nodes submitted) were included in fewer than 70% of cases. Only 3 indicators (location of the adenocarcinoma, seminal vesicle involvement, and the status of nodes) were found in more than 70% of cases. Although the mean level of quality indicator inclusion ranged from 14.8% to 85.9% for all cases examined, the absolute range for any individual indicator was 0% to 100%. Thus, some hospitals included a given indicator 100% of the time; others never included it. This pattern held true for all 10 indicators. High-volume hospitals (10 or more cases) performed significantly better than low-volume hospitals (1-4 cases) on 5 indicators (P < .05), and better, but not significantly so, for an additional 2 indicators. Overall, the mean inclusion levels for all 10 indicators were 10% higher for high-volume hospitals compared with low-volume and medium-volume hospitals (5-9 cases). This study demonstrated wide variations in the inclusion of quality indicators by pathologists in their radical prostatectomy-pathology reports. Whereas some hospitals always include given indicators, others never mentioned them. These marked disparities point to the need for standardized reporting for radical prostatectomy specimens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-220
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Quality
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000


  • Quality indicators
  • Radical prostatectomy pathology specimens


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