A data processing system for the emergency laboratory was integrated in our clinical laboratory computer system, its prime objective being the service requirements of the laboratory. It included the possibility of simultaneous optical reading of request forms and on-line capturing, processing, and printing of laboratory test data. Priority request forms, which allow the clinician to specify the interval by which emergency test results must be available, are registered by an optical reader and arranged according to urgency by the computer. The production of worksheets is replaced by visual display of information required for accurate specimen analyses on a large colour TV screen. The individual processing status of all tests from as many as 30 request forms is displayed in a colour code. For process control the updated delay time for test performance is faded in. All reports are produced by direct machine transfer of verified test results. For security purposes all steps of sample processing (request, result, report) are recorded via line printers outside the emergency laboratory. The capacity of the computer for managing sample and data processing reduces the work load for technicians. This results in a reduction of the turn-round time of tests. 95% of all requested tests are performed and reported within the requested time period and in emergencies, test results are available within 5-10 min. There has been no major breakdown of the system in over one year of use.
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