Context: National patient safety goals and error reduction efforts should be addressed by each surgical pathology laboratory.
Objective: To review issues relevant to patient safety and error reduction in surgical pathology in the context of continuous quality improvement.
Data sources: The literature is reviewed.
Conclusions: Patient safety goals can and should be addressed within the context of a quality improvement plan. Multiple factors that contribute to errors in surgical pathology are discussed. The current literature defines the extent of these problems within specific segments of the test cycle (preanalytic, analytic, and postanalytic). Potential solutions are presented that may reduce or avoid errors. In addition, general principles are outlined that enhance the laboratory's ability to successfully and continuously address patient safety and error reduction.