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A computer program for assembling selected cell panels.

Among the tools needed by blood bankers for identifying red cell antibodies is a panel of selected cells. Putting each panel together may require a search of many panel sheets-or, in some cases, of card files containing hundreds of cells-with which to assemble the correct combination of antigen types. Once found, the cells must be transcribed to a worksheet. The transcription process provides an ideal opportunity to make clerical errors. Building the process into a computer problem eliminates that step.

The selected cell programs currently on the market have several disadvantages. Some are part of much larger, expensive programs. Others require special hardware, such as color monitors and graphics adapters.

I resolved to make the task of assembling these panels easier while keeping the necessary hardware within budget. The result was a program capable of searching for specified phenotypes and printing a worksheet with cells selected by the user.

The program requires an IBM PC or compatible with at least 256K RAM, running DOS 2.0 or later. Printing the worksheet requires an additional software program, Sideways (Funk Software Corp., Cambridge, Mass). Sideways is used to turn the worksheet 90 degrees so that it prints out lengthwise on a dot matrix printer. Sideways (ver. 3.2) lists for $69.95 but can be obtained at discount outlets for under $50.

The program described in this article enables the user to create files of cells, store cells in designated files, display cell phenotypes, search a file for designated phenotypes, and print out worksheets. The source code for this program runs to more than 3,000 lines and is written in C. Rather than reproduce it here, I will describe it and explain how to obtain a copy of the program.

"Home" for this program is the main menu, which offers seven options Figure 1). After the user has exercised an option, the program returns to the main menu. The final option exits the program. *File access. Initially, the user must choose an existing file to work with or create a new one. Typically, cells in the refrigerator are recorded in one file, while frozen cells are recorded in another. Once a file has been selected, it is easily manipulated. * Add or delete. The add/delete option brings up a submenu of options. Cells are added to the file by choosing "add" and using the cell data entry screen (Figure 11). The user enters the source (usually the name of the manufacturer), cell number, lot number, expiration date, donor reference number, and up to 44 phenotypes. A ten-space category for special types is included for uncommon antigens; these additional comments print out on the worksheet.

Data entry is designed so that th user may move the curs over the screen by using the arrow keys. Backtracking can be done as desired during data entry. Pressing F2 records the data in the file.

To remove cells from the file, the user selects either of the two delete options. If a bottle of cells runs dry or the aliquot of frozen cells has been used up, the user can delete a single cell by entering its source, cell number, and lot number and pressing F2. After old panels have been thrown out, the user can delete a group by entering its source and the lot number. Any cells from the specified source and lot will be removed. * Display/edit. The user may display cells on the screen for review by choosing the display function on the main menu and entering the source, cell number, and lot number. The display, while identical to the cell data entry screen, will show all data recorded on the cell. If entry errors are discovered in a cell that has been entered, a special editing feature allows the user to make corrections. When the cell is displayed, the user moves the cursor to the appropriate spot and makes the correction. Pressing F2 records the changes. * Search. The search function is the heart of the program. To search for specified phenotypes, the user enters a list of desired types, such as the antigen string shown in Figure 111. In this example, the computer will search the file for all cells that are Jka, K, E, and Fya negative and PI positive. A list of cells matching these types is printed out for review (Figure IV).

Within a four- to eight-month period, reagent manufacturers include donors whose cells have been used in previous panels. When the user is selecting cells for the worksheet, knowing the donor reference number helps to prevent using cells from the same donor more than once. * Worksheet. After reviewing the lists generated by the search function, the user chooses the cells to be included in the selected cell panel. A list of these is reentered under the Worksheet function, again by source, cell number, and lot. The computer generates an ASCII file representing the worksheet and sends it to the disk in a file named TEXT. To print the worksheet, the user exits the Selected Cell program and invokes Sideways by typing <SIDEWAYS TEXT> and then <ENTER>. This will start the worksheet printout (Figure V).

Sideways was originally developed to print wide spreadsheets created by Lotus 1-2-3 (Lotus Development Corp., Cambridge, Mass.) and other spreadsheet programs. It can also be used, as here, to turn text files 90 degrees. The Selected Cell program uses Sideways in its stand-alone mode. Each user will benefit from experimenting with various settings, particularly line and character spacing that will obtain the best printout on the printer to be used.

Cell files created with the program described in this article are not compatible with other commercially available selected cell programs. The files of such programs are incompatible with this program as well. The reason for this is that there is no standardized format for entering and using such data. I have suggested to a few vendors that they work to establish a standardized format for cell files that would work equally well for all programs. Unfortunately, they have expressed little interest in doing so.

Some applications use database programs to search for cell phenotypes. I have been frustrated by their inability to search rapidly. Using various PC systems, I timed the Selected Cell program as it searched for four antigen types on 500 cells. On an IBM PC compatible running at 4.77 MHz with a floppy disk, the search took 36 seconds. With the file on the hard disk, the search took 18 seconds quite a time-saver over a hand search.

The number of cells that can be stored is restricted only by the disk space available. For every ten cells entered, approximately 2K of disk space is used. Since the program creates a copy of the file during editing, a 360K disk can hold about 600 cells in all files on a bootable disk containing the Selected Cell program and Sideways. Users who have hard disks should consider installing the program on them, since storage space is enormous and the program will run faster than if the system is limited to floppies.

MLO readers can obtain a free copy of the Selected Cell program by sending a blank diskette (either 5 1/4 or 3 1/2 inches square) and a postpaid self-addressed floppy mailer to: Chris Cardillo, Blood Bank, New England Deaconess Hospital, 185 Pilgrim Rd., Boston, MA 02215. n
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Cardillo, Christopher
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Date:Jul 1, 1990
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