The Technicon AutoAnalyzer SMA-4 has been systematically evaluated. Carry-over from the sample cups was found to be within an acceptable range. The precision and accuracy of the four parameters determined by the instrument have been investigated. The haemoglobin results were found to be accurate. There was good agreement with leucocyte counts performed on the model A Coulter electronic cell counter. After certain modifications had been made in the manifold, satisfactory degrees of accuracy were also obtained for the erythrocyte counts. Although the determination of the haematocrit by conductance is influenced by a variety of factors, the mean coefficient of variation was found to be 0·83% and 95% of the results agreed within ± 2% of those obtained by the microhaematocrit centrifugation method.
A logistic assessment of the SMA-4 when it was put into routine use indicated the need to select blood samples without excess anticoagulant, to calibrate the instrument before each run, to test for instrumental drift, to use a rapid method of correcting stoppages, and, if concurrent reporting is carried out, to employ the part-time services of a second operator. The presence of dust in the environment was found to have a deleterious effect on both the mechanical and electronic components of the system requiring preventive maintenance. It should be possible, by interfacing an analogue-digital converter and automatic punch, to produce data compatible with records.
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