From March 1974 all reports from this microbiology department have been computer printed and filed. The system was designed to include every medically important microorganism and test. Technicians at the laboratory bench made their results computer-readable using Port-a-punch cards, and specimen details were recorded on paper-tape, allowing the full description of each specimen to appear on the report. A summary form of each microbiology phrase enabled copies of reports to be printed on wide paper with 12 to 18 reports per sheet; such copies, in alphabetical order for one day, and cumulatively for one week were used by staff answering enquiries to the office. This format could also be used for printing allthe reports for one patient. Retrieval of results from the files was easily performed and was useful to medical and laboratory staff and for control-of-infection purposes. The system was written in COBOL and was designed to be as cost-effective as possible without sacrificing accuracy; the cost of a report and its filing was 17-97 pence.
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