In 1970 the Birmingham Histopathology Data Pool was established to collect information on biopsies of surgical specimens from three hospitals. The scheme has gradually expanded and 10 hospitals now participate. The pathologist gives each specimen a numerical code based on the Systematised Nomenclature of Pathology (SNOP). The information is processed by computer and stored on cumulative magnetic tape file. At regular intervals (at three, six, and nine months) 'printouts' listing all the information recorded within the interval are produced and a cumulative print-out is issued when the information for a whole year is complete. The data pool system has provided accurate alphabetical and SNOP diagnostic files and has simplified retrieval of data for both follow-up and research purposes. The pathologist may use the computer to retrieve and analyse information from the data pool for this own use or on behalf of clinicians, but he may use information from laboratories other than his own for research purposes and publication only with the permission of the pathologists who submitted the data.
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