Patient Frequently Asked Questions

Click on a question below for more information:

What is a Pathologist?
What do Pathologists do?
Why did my specimen come to your office?
How are you involved with patient care in hospitals?
What happens after my doctor removes my body tissue?
What is a Pap Test?
Do you provide hands-on patient care?
May I talk to a Pathologist about my diagnosis?
May I have my specimens back?
How do I get a copy of my Pathology report?
What are "send-out" lab tests?
How do I order a 2nd opinion?

 


What is a Pathologist?
Pathologists are licensed Medical Doctors (M.D.) or Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.). Pathologists complete a 4-year undergraduate degree program and 4 years of medical school. After medical school, Pathologists enter a 4-5 year residency program, typically in 2 specialties, Anatomic Pathology and Clinical Pathology.

Following a pathology residency program, Pathologists can spend an additional 1-3 years in fellowship training, concentrating their study in a more specialized field of pathology. Fellowships can include surgical pathology, cytopathology, hematopathology, dermatopathology, microbiology, blood bank/transfusion medicine and clinical chemistry.

Pathologists are considered Board Certified by passing an examination from the American Board of Pathology. All of our Pathologists are dual board certified in Anatomic Pathology and Clinical Pathology. In addition, we have Pathologists who have specialty training and certification in cytopathology and hematopathology.
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What do Pathologists do?
Pathologists examine tissue, blood, urine and other body fluids to look for changes in health status or look for disease in patients.
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Why did my specimen come to your office?
Your referring medical provider chose our team of Pathologists because they trust our diagnostic skill and experience.

Our Pathologists interpret Pap tests, biopsies and other specimens that come from 5 hospitals and over 225 private physicians' offices in 17 different cities in the Mid-Willamette Valley Region of Oregon.

We are contracted to interpret specimens for procedures performed at the following hospitals:

  • Salem Hospital in Salem, Oregon
  • Willamette Valley Medical Center in McMinnville, Oregon
  • Silverton Hospital in Silverton, Oregon
  • Santiam Memorial Hospital in Stayton, Oregon
  • West Valley Hospital in Dallas, Oregon
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How are you involved with patient care in hospitals?
Our Pathologists are designated as the Laboratory Medical Directors for each of the 5 area hospitals. All of our Pathologists help medical staff providers interpret test results and recommend additional testing. We are physically present during surgeries to evaluate specimens removed during these procedures. We also approve test protocols, monitor the blood banking service, and perform fine needle aspirates and bone marrow aspirates as needed.
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What happens after my doctor removes my body tissue?
Your tissue sample is sent to our office where it is processed and stained for our examination. The Pathologist looks at your slides through a microscope and reviews your medical history. The results are sent to your requesting medical provider who will then discuss the findings with you.
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What is a Pap Test?
The Papanikolaou test or Papanicolaou test (also called Pap smear or Pap test) is a screening test used to detect cancerous or pre-cancerous cells in the ectocervix (the part of the uterine cervix extending into the vagina).

Cells are collected from the outer opening of the cervix and placed into a vial containing a solution to preserve the sample. The sample is processed and screened by a qualified cytotechnologist using a microscope. If the sample is normal, the results are sent to the referring medical provider. If there is a concern about the sample, it is sent to a Pathologist to review. There are two charges, one for the Pap test itself and an additional charge if it is reviewed by a Pathologist. About 15% of all Pap tests require an interpretation by a Pathologist.

Additional tests can also be performed from the Pap vial, including high risk HPV (human papillomavirus), Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. Your medical provider will order these tests if indicated. Note that HPV, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea tests are billed separately by Salem Hospital.

More information about HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases

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Do you provide hands-on patient care?
Yes, we perform bone marrow biopsy and aspiration and fine needle aspiration for patients when ordered by a medical provider.

Click here for patient education brochure about these two procedures:
Fine Needle Aspirate

Bone Marrow Biopsy and Aspirate

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May I talk to a Pathologist about my diagnosis?
We ask that you receive your results from the medical provider who ordered your test. Lab test results sometimes indicate that further testing should be done. Test results must always be looked at in combination with other tests, symptoms and previous medical history to determine if there is a problem. Our result, combined with the knowledge your personal medical provider has about your medical history, can lead to the accurate diagnosis and treatment for your condition.
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May I have my specimens back?
We are not able to return specimens because the chemicals used to process your specimen can be unsafe if not handled properly.
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How do I get a copy of my Pathology report?
Please call our office for information on how to obtain this report, (503) 561-5350.
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What are "send-out" lab tests?
Some types of disease require additional testing to confirm a diagnosis or to help determine a treatment plan. Your medical provider or the Pathologist may order these tests. In some cases, you may get a bill from an unfamiliar lab or our office may bill you directly for these tests.

The most common send out tests are cytogenetic tests for bone marrow and blood specimens. We are sensitive to the increased costs of these tests and take great care to limit them to only the most clinically relevant tests available.
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How do I order a 2nd opinion?
Part of our commitment to establishing an accurate diagnosis is that every new cancer case, except skin squamous cell and skin basal cell carcinomas, is reviewed by at least 2 pathologists in our group.

Our specialized training allows us to provide diagnoses on all but the most complex and difficult cases. In these instances, we occasionally seek the opinion of an outside consulting pathologist by shipping the specimen via overnight mail to them.

Patients and referring providers can request a 2nd opinion and we will send the slides and the report to another pathology office via overnight mail. There will be a charge from the consulting pathologist for this service, usually $250 - $500, more if additional tests are ordered and the patient is responsible for this bill. Please fax a request for 2nd opinion to (503) 561-4781.
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