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The Diagnostic Cytopathology department is guided by the guidelines of the Royal College of Pathologists (RCPath) on turnaround times (TAT), that is, 80% of cases are to be reported within seven calendar days of sample being taken whilst 90% are to be reported within ten calendar days – TAT relates to the final local report and excludes cases sent for external opinion and those that require molecular biology analysis. The department is required to publish monthly audit reports and this information is available on request.

Sometimes a sample may be deemed urgent by the requesting clinician for a variety of reasons, including patients being of the HSC205 pathway. In these instances, the reporting cyto/histopathologist may give a verbal report to the requesting clinician provided the request form is clearly marked urgent/HSC205. Any verbal report is usually provisional pending assessment of all material and/or ancillary testing. In these instances, the clinician should telephone the laboratory in advance and provide a contact name and phone or bleep number.

Additionally, it is strongly recommended that the clinicians inform the laboratory prior to aspirating any cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples so that transport instructions may be conveyed and the laboratory is prepared for receipt of the sample. Due to the nature of these samples, CSFs should be sent and processed in a short timeframe to prevent degeneration of cells.


(Last reviewed March 2024)