Some say a pathologist is a doctor’s doctor, a primary partner in diagnosing and understanding disease.
James Malter, M.D., Chair of the Department of Pathology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, and his team of 115 pathologists aspire to be just that, delivering the most accurate, well-informed analysis of tissue and body fluids possible to diagnose disease.
“It’s the best patient care we can deliver, when we bring together different doctors with different skill sets and expertise to provide the fastest, most up-to-date, and most accurate diagnosis. That’s what everybody wants, and it’s a tremendous advantage to patients,” says Dr. Malter.
We can provide a level of expertise in pretty much every area of pathology. That’s a tremendous advantage that our patients receive behind the scenes. They may not realize it, but they’ve got a whole team of experts in their court.”
Dr. Malter oversees three areas: Clinical Pathology, which performs about 14 million laboratory tests each year for patients at UTSW Clinics, University Hospitals, Parkland Memorial Hospital, and Children’s Medical Center; Surgical Pathology, which focuses on tissue analysis for patients at these facilities; and Anatomical Pathology, which includes 15 full-time UTSW medical examiners who perform more than 4,000 autopsies each year at the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office. Dr. Malter also manages extensive blood banking and transfusion services.
“Having access to pathology services in an academic medical center is a huge advantage for our patients through the experience and knowledge our pathologists gain by reviewing tens of thousands of samples each year. The most precise diagnosis means the best treatment plan for improving quality of life,” Dr. Malter says.
One of the fascinating areas of pathology and its contribution to clinical care is the continuous evolution and refinement of what makes up specific tissue, like a tumor, he says.
“What makes up this disease process? How are proteins and genes expressed? The deeper we go into these complexities, the more we’re able to discern the differences that exist in individual patients, to understand what will happen to the patient, and whether environmental or hereditary issues are affecting the disease,” Dr. Malter says. “These things all have repercussions on the ultimate outcome, which is to facilitate patient care and provide the highest level of care we can. That’s our goal. That’s what we try to do here.”