The Henry ford production system: effective reduction of process defects and waste in surgical pathology

Am J Clin Pathol. 2007 Dec;128(6):1015-22. doi: 10.1309/RGF6JD1NAP2DU88Q.


By adopting a cultural transformation in its employees' approach to work and using manufacturing based continuous quality improvement methods, the surgical pathology division of Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, MI, focused on reducing commonly encountered defects and waste in processes throughout the testing cycle. At inception, the baseline in-process defect rate was measured at nearly 1 in 3 cases (27.9%). After the year-long efforts of 77 workers implementing more than 100 process improvements, the number of cases with defects was reduced by 55% to 1 in 8 cases (12.5%), with a statistically significant reduction in the overall distribution of defects (P = .0004). Comparison with defects encountered in the pre-improvement period showed statistically significant reductions in pre-analytic (P = .0007) and analytic (P = .0002) test phase processes in the post-improvement period that included specimen receipt, specimen accessioning, grossing, histology slides, and slide recuts. We share the key improvements implemented that were responsible for the overall success in reducing waste and re-work in the broad spectrum of surgical pathology processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / methods*
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Efficiency, Organizational*
  • Health Services Misuse
  • Hospitals, Urban
  • Humans
  • Pathology, Surgical / methods*
  • Pathology, Surgical / organization & administration
  • Process Assessment, Health Care*
  • Quality Control
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Total Quality Management / methods*