A computer system for reporting and recording all specimens processed by the routine bacteriology laboratory at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School is described. Features of interest are the method of input using a mixture of 3-character alphanumeric codes and numbers, cumulative reporting to the wards, and selective listing of relevant previous results for the patient, which is available to technical and supervisory staff during processing of the specimen. The relative value to the wards and the laboratory of each type of information transfer has been assessed. Overall the use of a computer has resulted in higher quality bench work and more accurate reporting. It seems little more expensive than a previous manual system, although it has transferred work from the technical to the clerical staff.
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