A simple 'fail-safe' system is described that produces microbiology reports on a computer teleprinter and stores results on the magnetic tapes and discs of a computer for instant retrieval and epidemiological analysis. The system, which has been in operation for over a year, involves the use of a modified conventional NCR request form. The top portion, which is completed manually by the laboratory staff, is coded by writing numbers in hatched boxes. The data thus written on to the bottom portion are transcribed by punch operators on to paper tape and this data input is verified by double punching. The reports are normally produced automatically by the computer terminal telprinter, but in case of mechanical failure the manually completed request forms can be returned to wards and outpatient departments. The system permits a wide choice of options for epidemiological analysis, and six programmes are described, one of which produces a digest of the overall percentage antibiotic sensitivities of organisms from various sites.
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