Seeing what works: identifying and enhancing successful interprofessional collaboration between pathology and surgery

Katherine Carroll, Jessica Mesman, Heidi McLeod, Judy Boughey, Gary Keeney, Elizabeth Habermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Utilising frozen section technologies, Mayo Clinic has one of the lowest reoperation rates for breast lumpectomy in the United States. The research reported on sought to understand the successful teamwork between the Breast Surgery Team and the Frozen Section Laboratory at Mayo Clinic. Researchers worked collaboratively with healthcare staff from breast surgery and the frozen section pathology laboratory to identify communication styles and strategies that contribute to the timely and accurate intraoperative evaluation of breast cancer specimens. Using the video-reflexive ethnography (VRE) methodology underpinned by a positive theoretical approach to researching quality and safety in healthcare, the researchers video-recorded the communications associated with specimen resections in surgery and the subsequent pathology diagnoses. Then, 57 staff from the breast surgery and frozen section laboratory teams attended video-reflexivity sessions to collaboratively analyse their communication practices and identify opportunities to optimize interprofessional communication. In this article, we focus on how the flexible, interdisciplinary, and cross-hierarchical communication within the frozen section laboratory supports a rapid and accurate intraoperative evaluation and communication, previously conceptualized by staff as being performed in a linear fashion. Moreover, we detail how the VRE methodology led surgeons and pathologists to implement new strategies and optimize their interprofessional communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)490-502
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Interprofessional Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021


  • Video-reflexive ethnography
  • collaboration
  • interprofessional
  • pathology
  • positive
  • surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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