The Department of Clinical Microbiology at St Thomas' Hospital has been producing bacteriological reports on a computer for more than three years and is now producing some 2300 reports per week. The system is operated entirely by laboratory staff without special training, and involves the use of optical mark reader (OMR) forms as worksheets, automatic validation and release of most reports, the use of local terminals, and scrutiny of reports by pathologists using a visual display unit. The OMR worksheet records not only the final result but also most of the tests and observations made on the samples; it is the only working document used by technicians. One specialist clinic submits its laboratory requests on an OMR form, which is subsequently used to record the results. The reports are printed and also filed in the computer to produce analyses for hospital, laboratory, and clinical management.
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