Findings are recorded as protocol organ fields or comments, non-protocol organ comments, or general information fields.
- Protocol organs: Tissues specified for routine examination.
- Non-protocol organs: Tissues examined only if abnormal at PM.
- General information: Other data, such as week and mode of death.
- Comments: Used to record infrequent conditions or additional descriptive prose.
- Fields: Of various types, to allow entry of presence/absence, semi-quantitative (graded), quantitative (integer or decimal), date or character data. Many user-defined grading systems can be used.
Data entry is organised so as to be both rapid and easy to use. On selecting an organ a user-defined list of fields is available to describe the pathological findings. Users select one or more of these and indicate presence, severity, size etc. by a single keystroke. Comments are stored with a reference number and can be used many times by simply specifying that number. By having specific grading systems attached to specific fields, data entry is also organised so as to produce scientifically valid and statistically analysable data.
There are four main modes of on-line data entry:
- One animal at a time: The protocol organs are displayed on screen. Users may indicate an organ is normal by a single keystroke or enter a sub-screen to specify findings. This mode is set up for easy use by pathologists, showing the list of fields available for the organ, the full name and data entry possibilities for the field the cursor is against, and allowing the user to see the text of the pathology and associated necropsy report on the screen or to print them.
- One organ at a time: For a specified organ, fields for 15 animals are shown as columns headed by short name with the full name shown at the bottom of the screen. This allows for rapid data entry of a single tissue.
- One animal, fields displayed as rows: For a specified animal, shows all the possible fields, with up to 8 organs displayed on a screen at a time. Useful for checking in detail all the information entered against an animal.
- Specified fields: Users may select a list of fields for entry. Similar in appearance to 'one organ at a time' mode. Very useful for adding extra data such as body weight and week of death.
In addition, users may select by animal lists or by field-based conditions (e.g. deaths in weeks 50-60) animals for which data are to be entered.In all forms of entry, switching to other animals or organs is quick and easy. Pathologists who do not like on-line entry can use 'tick-sheets' for subsequent entry by data-processing personnel. The 'one organ at a time' mode has many functions to speed up entry here. Data for specific fields from other computing systems can be entered via ASCII files.
- Missing data: At all stages in entry and analysis, animals which do not have a condition are carefully distinguished from those for which no evaluation can be made because the section is missing, autolysed or of inadequate quality.
- Blind entry: Entry may be by a secondary reference number so the animal's treatment is not known to the pathologist.
- Dictionaries (lexicons): Users may set up their own dictionaries of organs and fields, with associated short name and grading system. RoeLee does not impose any abbreviations on the user (although we will supply sample dictionaries if required).
- Automatic initialisation: A simple and rapid process, using the dictionaries, allows users to set up the data structure (organs and fields) for a study, and to define the groups, animals per group and animal numbers.
- Amendments to data: At any stage fields or organs may be added rapidly, and it is easy to change their names or their associated grading systems. Additional animals can be introduced. Changes after ratification are monitored on the Audit Trail. Deletions can be made but not of ratified data.
- Tumour coding: Findings can be classified readily as benign or malignant tumours, as metatases, or as multicentric tumours.
- Organs: Can be defined as sex-specific, and/or as paired organs. Combined incidences can be calculated from paired organs at a later stage.
- Recuts: Where a section is unsatisfactory, users may mark the need for a recut and generate a recut request form. The status of the requested recuts can be reviewed.
- Autolysis: Users may enter the degree of autolysis present for a tissue and may indicate whether all or some fields are not assessable because of it.
- Factors contributory to death: Users may mark conditions or define syndromes considered to contribute to death. This allows extra reporting options and more automated Peto analysis.
- Predominant pathology: For animals sacrificed at termination or in scheduled interim kills, users may mark conditions or define syndromes as predominant pathology, allowing extra reporting options.
- Macro/Micro correlations: At the micro stage users can see macro findings for each animal and define macro/micro linkages, allowing further styles of report, useful for QA.
- Size: The program allows data for up to 198 organs; 50,000 animals; 99 groups; 6,000 fields; 500 grading systems, each with up to 99 levels.
- Interfaces: Special programs have been written to allow ROELEE databases to be created automatically from a number of other data entry systems: ACOPAT, DATATOX, PROVANTIS, PLACES and SPSS. Others can be written as necessary for users' needs.