Pathology testing or pathology reporting is the right hand for the physicians and surgeons to decide appropriate future plans for their patients. Laboratory errors cover all the errors under their umbrella which occur between requesting a pathology test and getting its result. These errors can mislead a doctor while designing a management plan for his/her patients.

Laboratory errors are divided into three phases:

  1. Pre-analytical errors
  2. Analytical errors
  3. Post –analytical errors

When the prevalence of these errors was analyzed, it was noteworthy that 60 to 90% of the errors occur in pre-analytical or post-analytical stage and only 10 to 15 % of them occur during analytical stage. These figures highlight the need of some automated system usage in all the laboratories which can minimize these errors.

When we focus specially on post-analytical phase we encounter following problems in most of the inappropriately delivered reports:

  1. Failure to communicate critical values
  2. Timely report approval by pathologists (in manual reporting system)
  3. Typographical mistakes
  4. Increased turnaround time
  5. Wrong result assignation

These errors can be avoided to a large extent by the use of automated systems of reporting the pathology tests.

Now we will focus on some of the important points which come in the mind of many people when they hear the term “Automated Pathology Reporting”.

What is “Automated Pathology Reporting”?

“Automated Pathology Reporting” is a way of using different software like LIS, LIMS, HIMS etc. for automatic reporting of lab reports from automatic analyzers to concerned authorities.

When did automation in Lab Reporting System start or in other words what is the history of Laboratory Information System?

Till 1980,s there was no automation present in the laboratories. All the work was performed through manual systems including the use of manual machinery and manual reporting system. At the end of 1980’s the idea of automation in clinical laboratories was presented and slowly work on that idea started. Initially the idea of automation was applied in different analytical procedures. Later on, in 21st century development of different software like LIS gained attention in laboratories for automated reporting all over the world.

Since their use for the first time, LIS and LIMS are improving and adjusting to the requirements of pathologists, laboratories and clinicians day by day. Every laboratory requires a customized LIS system based on the need of that laboratory like its work load etc.

What are the benefits of using this system?

The key benefits of using this system revolve around the following:

  1. Prompt reporting
  2. Critical values are reported without delay
  3. Decrease in the percentage of typographical mistakes/transcriptional errors
  4. Decreased turnaround time
  5. Less consumption of human resources
  6. More automated and versatility
  7. Record is properly maintained
  8. Highly efficient
  9. Sensitivity and specificity of test reporting can be improved
  10. Tracking of sample is available
  11. Health authorities can be informed promptly in case of any infectious event or epidemic
  12. Helps in improving data management in labs to work efficiently and improving their business
  13. Ultimately reducing lab errors in all stages

Does “Automated Pathology Reporting” has any effect on Quality Control (QC) of a lab?

Yes, the quality control of a lab is highly dependable on properly and timely reporting of ordered lab tests. If the results are delayed or erroneously delivered they can have worse effects on the treatment outcomes. As a result the quality of that laboratory will be questioned by many authorities.

What are the limitations or disadvantages of using automated systems for laboratory reporting?

Although automated systems are highly reliable but still sometimes a few limitations can affect their utility. The most important ones are the following:

  1. Customized system is needed for all labs according to their needs
  2. Technical persons are required to handle the software in case of any issue
  3. Proper interfacing with the analyzers are required
  4. In case of any technical issue, reporting system is effected

Summary

After summarizing all the facts mentioned and discussed above, we can conclude that automated reporting system is one of the precious and useful innovations in the laboratory system. With properly installing the software and maintaining the quality control on them we can save time and human resources as well as can improve the treatment outcomes in our hospitals/clinics in a long run. These steps also reduce the number of lab errors and ultimately all the benefit is provided to our patient population.