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Initial study of anaemia profile for primary care centres with automated laboratory algorithms reduces the demand for ferritin, iron, transferrin, vitamin B12 and folate tests


Aim To evaluate the influence of an algorithm designed to incorporate reflex testing according to haemogram results for analytical tests ordered to investigate anaemia.

Methods In 2020, a new request for ‘initial study of anaemia’ was created in three primary care pilot centres for suspected anaemia or new anaemias. A haemogram was ordered and the remainder of the tests were created in a reflex manner according to an algorithm integrated in the laboratory information system that also generates a comment that is completed and validated by a haematologist. The demand for tests was evaluated over three time periods.

Results Of 396 requests, anaemia was detected in 80 (20.2%), with 26 microcytic anaemias (6.57%), 20 iron deficiency anaemias, 41 (10.3%) normocytic anaemias and 13 macrocytic anaemias (3.28%); 4 with folate deficiency; and 1 haemolytic anaemia. No haematological diseases were detected. Twenty-four (6.06%) cases exhibited microcytosis/hypochromia without anaemia, 12 of which exhibited iron deficiency. Four young women exhibiting within-limit haemoglobin levels had iron deficiency. There were 56 (14.1%) cases of macrocytosis without anaemia.

With the new profile of ‘initial study of anaemia’, the demand for tests was reduced and was significantly lower than in the remainder of primary centres for iron, transferrin, ferritin, vitamin B12 and folate.

Conclusions A new profile of ‘initial study of anaemia’ in the request form with algorithms integrated in the laboratory information system enabled submission of orders and decreased the demand for unnecessary iron, transferrin, ferritin, vitamin B12 and folate tests.

  • haematology
  • iron
  • medical informatics computing
  • vitamin B12

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplemental information. Data requesters should do the following: Email the corresponding author for the paper to request the relevant data.

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