Non-technical skills in histopathology: definition and discussion

Peter Johnston, Evie Fioratou, Rhona Flin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Health care is a high-risk industry, with most documented adverse incidents being associated with ‘human factors’ including cognitive and social skills termed ‘non-technical skills’. Non-technical skills complement the diagnostic and specialist skills and professional attributes required by medical practitioners, including histopathologists, and can enhance the quality of practice and delivery of health-care services and thus contribute to patient safety. This review aims to introduce histopathologists to non-technical skills and how these pertain to everyday histopathological practice. Drawing from other domains in medicine, specifically anaesthesia and surgery, a variety of non-technical skills are identified and described in the context of histopathology to illustrate the role each plays, often collectively, in daily practice. The generic non-technical skills are defined as situation awareness, decision-making, communication, teamwork, leadership, managing stress and coping with fatigue. Example scenarios from histopathology are presented and the contributions to outcomes made by non-technical skills are explained. Consideration of these specific non-technical skills as a component in histopathology training may benefit practitioners as well as assuring patient safety
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-367
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Early online date21 Jun 2011
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011


  • error
  • histopathology
  • human factors
  • non-technical skills
  • patient safety


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