RE: Pathology Assistants


Pathology Assistants are lab aids that work in pathology and clean glassware, file slides and other small tasks.  Pathologists' Assistants on the other hand are physician extenders to the pathologist much as a physicians' assistant assists the clinician.  We are not cytotechnicians and cannot read pap smears.  Cytotechs come cheaper and if you need someone to screen slides then a cytotech would be the most economical choice.  Feel free to call me at (217)383-6621 if you or your pathologist have any questions I could answer. A job description for the pathologists' assistant provided by the American Association of Pathologists' Assistants is as follows:
A pathologists' assistant is an intensively trained allied health professional who provides anatomic pathology services under the direction and supervision of a pathologist. Pathologists' assistants interact with pathologists in same manner that physicians' assistants carry out their duties under the direction of physicians in surgical and medical practice.  Pathologists' Assistants contribute to the overall efficiency of the laboratory or pathology practice in a cost effective manner by performing a variety of tasks, consisting primarily of gross examination of surgical pathology  specimens and performance of autopsies. 

Based on the
AAPA Code of Regulations and reviewed by a committee of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP) in 1994

At the direction and under the supervision of a Pathologist(s), a Pathologists' Assistant may perform the following tasks and assume the responsibility for duties including the following:

bullet Preparation, gross description and dissection of human tissue surgical specimens including:

A. Assuring appropriate specimen accessioning.

B. Obtaining clinical history, including scans, x-rays, laboratory data, etc.

C. Describing gross anatomic features, dissecting surgical specimens, and preparing tissues for histologic processing.

D. Obtaining biological specimens such as blood, tissue and toxicological material for studies such as flow cytometry, image analysis, immunohistochemistry etc., and performing special procedures including Faxitron imaging and tumor triage.

E. Photographing all pertinent gross specimens and microscopic slides.

F. Performing duties relating to the administrative maintenance of surgical pathology protocols, reports and data, including the filing of reports, protocols, photographic and microscopic slides; assuring the completion of specimen coding; and billing.

G. Assuring proper maintenance of equipment, provision of adequate supplies, and cleanliness of the surgical pathology suite.

H. Assisting in the organization and coordination of anatomic pathology conferences.

bullet Preparation of human postmortem examinations including:

A. Ascertaining proper legal authorization for autopsy.

B. Retrieving the patient's medical chart and other pertinent data for review with the attending pathologist(s).

C. Conferring with the attending pathologist(s) to identify any special techniques and procedures to be utilized in the completion of the postmortem examination, (e.g. cultures; smears; histochemical, immunofluorescence, toxicological, viral, or electron microscopy studies etc.), and notifying all personnel directly involved.

D. Notifying the physician in charge, the funeral home, and all other appropriate authorities prior to the beginning of the autopsy; and coordinating any requests for special specimen sampling (e.g. organ transplantation, research, etc.).

E. Performing postmortem examinations which may include: external examination; in situ organ inspection; evisceration; dissection and dictation or recording of data such as organ weights, presence of body fluids etc., and gross anatomic findings.

F. Selecting, preparing and submitting appropriate gross tissue sections for frozen section analysis as well as for light, electron and immunofluorescent microscopy.

G. Obtaining biological specimens such as blood, tissue and toxicological material for studies including flow cytometry, image analysis, immunohistochemistry etc.; and performing special procedures such as coronary artery perfusion, central nervous system perfusion, enucleation, inner ear bone dissection, spinal cord removal, etc.

H. Photographing the body, organs, microscopic slides and other pertinent materials.

I. Gathering and organizing clinical information and data pertinent to the preparation of the preliminary summarization of the clinical history.

J. Preparing the body for release (including indicating the presence of biohazards such as contagious disease, radiation implants, etc.), and releasing the body to the appropriate mortuary or funeral home representative.

K. Performing duties related to administrative maintenance of anatomic pathology protocols; photographic and microscopic slides; and assuring the completion of coding.

L. Assisting in the organization and coordination of anatomic pathology conferences.

M. Assuring the proper maintenance of equipment, the provision of adequate supplies, and the cleanliness of the autopsy suite.

Performing such administrative, budgetary, supervisory, teaching, and other duties as may be assigned.

Charles R. Embrey Jr., PA(AAPA), HT(ASCP)
Histology Manager
Carle Clinic
Urbana, IL                 (217) 383-6621

-----Original Message-----
From: Melissa Jensen []
Sent: Tuesday, July 16, 2002 6:52 PM
Subject: Pathology Assistants

Our Pathologist are discussing the possibility of hiring a P.A.We have a Pathologist retiring at the end of year...Not everyone is clear on what a P.A. can do.Especially concerning cytology are reading paps..I would love to hear from any P.A.s or histotechs who have the info! ...

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