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Clin Lab. 2018 Jan 1;64(1):99-104. doi: 10.7754/Clin.Lab.2017.170703.

Clinical Utility of Ordered Pathology Blood Smear Reviews - an Overused Resource?



Blood smear reviews by pathologists (BSR) are ordered frequently at our institution, take time to evaluate, and result in a written report. Minimal research has been done regarding the amount of novel data reported and its clinical utility.


Detailed chart review was performed on BSR orders from January 1, 2015 to March 31, 2015 to assess reasons for smear review, if results were mentioned in the chart, if laboratory-driven reviews were already performed, and if novel, clinically influential data was reported. The trends in ordering was also evaluated.


A total of 277 reviews were performed and were most commonly ordered to evaluate the presence of malignancy (43%), hemolysis (18%), and anemia (16%). For 130 of the 277 specimens, laboratory-driven smear review was already performed. The BSR smear review findings were not mentioned in the patient chart in 52% of cases. The report provided novel data in 187 cases (68%) which mainly were minor findings such as low levels of red blood cell abnormalities. The novel data appeared to influence clinical decision making in only 3 cases (1%).


Although novel data are often reported, only rarely does it appear to be clinically significant and the information frequently overlaps with information already provided by laboratory-initiated smear reviews. Discussion with, and education of, clinical staff may increase appropriate utilization.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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