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A-Z Services - Pathology

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What is Pathology and how does it benefit patients?

Pathology is the study and diagnosis of disease through examination of molecules, cells, tissues, body fluids and organs

Pathology Services lie at the heart of the health care services provided to patients and are essential to the delivery of many of the national priorities and targets for the NHS.  It is estimated that between 70 and 80 per cent of all health care decisions affecting diagnosis or treatment involve a pathology investigation.
In addition to its work for RD&E wards, departments, inpatient, outpatient and day case services, the Pathology Department offers a comprehensive service to local GP surgeries and community hospitals.


In Molecular Genetics the RD&E Pathology Service is the only laboratory in the UK to offer a service for MODY, (Maturity-Onset Diabetes of the Young). The head of this department Sian Ellard was awarded ‘UK Healthcare Scientist of the Year’ prize in 2006 for her work in this specialty.


Clinical Chemistry started a South West Peninsula wide service in 2006 to support the First Trimester Down's Screening programme.


Pathology Services form a key part of the Diagnostic Services Directorate on the RD&E site and consist departments each specialising in different aspects of pathology.  They are:

Blood Transfusion

Blood Tests

Clinical Chemistry






Molecular Genetics


Is Pathology primarily laboratory-based work?

The majority of Pathology work is laboratory-based but there will be more testing at the ‘point of care’ for specific instances. The systems can be operated by ward or surgery staff or patients but these arrangements are overseen by the Trust Pathology Service. These systems are already widely used to monitor conditions such as diabetes and anti-coagulation therapy and improve the patient journey. They enable, for example, the use of ‘one stop’ outpatient and warfarin clinics, where patients can have their blood testing done during the clinic and receive quickly any therapy dosing adjustments made at the same time. Point of Care Testing (POCT) can also be used in ward situations, like the Intensive Care Unit and the Emergency Department.