Interfaces with Quantitative and Qualitative Results

Processes and Software Building Part 7

This is an update of a previous post.

Blood Bank instruments may perform tests and release test results in a numerical or alphanumeric format or both.  For example, nucleic acid and enzyme immunoassay may release a qualitative result (e.g. positive, reactive, borderline/gray-zone, negative, nonreactive).  Alternatively, the machine may release the signal to cutoff ratio (S/CO) as a numeric result.

Blood bank software may use either kind of result on which to base interpretative rules for acceptability of the donor.  The qualitative result criteria are based on the quantitative SC/O but the equipment automatically interprets this.  The S/CO ratio of 1 is the cut-off point.  Thus a value of 0.99 is negative and the value 1.01 is positive.  But is it really so clear-cut since the difference between the two is so small?  Thus, some people have added the term gray-zone for values close to but below the cutoff.  Could a value of 0.95 be an early infection?

I personally prefer to see the actual cutoff but use the manufacturer’s criteria for interpretation.  As a physician, it is good to review the S/CO on serial exams.  If a borderline or gray-zone result becomes positive, then perhaps the original result indicated early infection.  The question still remains, what is the gray-zone?  0.95 to 0.99, 0.90 to 0.99, etc.  Some accrediting schema have not used gray-zone for interpretation.

With Medinfo’s blood bank software, I could choose either option or both—or at least store the S/CO as a nonreported result for subsequent review.  I could even chose, test by test, in a series between reporting either S/CO or the qualitative result.

Semiquantitative results, e.g. in {0, 1+, 2+, 3+, 4+} are qualitative and could also include mixed field (mf) and hemolyzed (h).  I showed examples of this with ABO/D antigen typing in a previous post—see attachment.

On the contrary, the results from blood production equipment may include parameters such as time of preparation, original volume, final volumes for each component, platelet yield index as an indirect measure of platelet count.  When there is pooling, the final total volume is critical to determine if pathogen-inactivation procedures and platelet additive solution can be used.  This is a much more complicated interface.