A manual system of microbiology reporting with a National Cash Register (NCR) form with printed names of bacteria and antiboitics required less time to compose reports than a previous manual system that involved rubber stamps and handwriting on plain report sheets. The NCR report cost 10-28 pence and, compared with a computer system, it had the advantages of simplicity and familarity, and reports were not delayed by machine breakdown, operator error, or data being incorrectly submitted. A computer reporting system for microbiology resulted in more accurate reports costing 17-97 pence each, faster and more accurate filing and recall of reports, and a greater range of analyses of reports that was valued particularly by the control-of-infection staff. Composition of computer-readable reports by technicians on Port-a-punch cards took longer than composing NCR reports. Enquiries for past results were more quickly answered from computer printouts of reports and a day book in alphabetical order.
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