Title:The use of free text blood film comments in a haematology laboratory

Author:Lauren N Eddington

Abstract:Objectives: To investigate how free text comments are used on haematology blood film reports in one laboratory.
Methods: A random selection of blood films made in January 2020 at Dunedin SCL Haematology were reviewed. Sentences of blood film comments were separated as either matching coded comments from the laboratory software, or comment booklet, or were designated as free text comments. The free text comments were reviewed and grouped by the sole researcher.
Results: 88 different free text comments were used a total of 108 times on 83 films. 83/321 (26%) films had free text comments, written by 10/13 (77%) of laboratory staff. Most free text comments, 55/88 (63%) referred to morphological findings. 38/88 (43%) indicated gradation and 27/88 (31%) of comments noted more than one feature in one sentence. Seven comments stated a ‘known’ disease state, four using acronyms. Comments that were various descriptions of ‘reactive neutrophils’ were used 13 times and 20 comments defined red blood cell poikilocytosis. Five spelling errors were noted in these reported comments. Conclusions: Providing free text comments was commonplace in this laboratory. Comments largely described morphological findings and supplied gradings for features or indices. Many noted more than one feature per sentence. Acronyms, statements of ‘known’ clinical features, and spelling errors were included in free text comments.
Key words: haematology, morphology, blood film, comment, free text.
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