Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Pathology Definition:

Laboratory medicine; that branch of medicine that studies diseases, their causes and effects.

Related Terms: Autopsy, Washerwoman Syndrome, Pathologist

See, also, the Legal Definition of a Pathologist.

Dr. Schmidt's dictionary defines pathology as folllows:

"The branch of medicine dealing with the ... causes of disease."

Stedman's Medical Dictionary:

"The medical science and speciality practice, concerned with all aspects of disease, but with special reference to the essential nature, causes and development of abnormal conditions, as well as the structural and functional changes that result from the disease process."

The College of American Pathologists describe pathology as follows:

"A pathologist is a physician who studies body fluids and tissues, helps your primary care doctor make a diagnosis about your health or any medical problems you have, and uses laboratory tests to monitor the health of patients with chronic conditions....

"A pathologist will also examine a tissue biopsy to determine if it is benign or if you have cancer, and shares that information with your primary care doctor. Some pathologists specialize in genetic testing, which can for example, determine the most appropriate treatment for particular types of cancer.

"Pathologists also perform autopsies, which not only determine the person’s cause of death, but may also discover more information about the genetic progression of a disease...."


In a 1961 case,1 a pathologist defined his expertise:

"... as embracing the whole field of medicine and dealing particularly and specifically with the determination of the cause of death by autopsy."


  • Methodist Hospital v. Ball, 362 SW 2d 475 (Court of Appeals of Tennessee, 1961; note 1)
  • Pugh, M., ed., Stedman's Medical Dictionary, 27th Ed. (Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2000), p. 1332.
  • Schmidt, J.E., Attorney's Dictionary of Medicine (San Fransisco: LexisNexis, 1998), volume 4

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