Narrative Reporting introduces the patient story into the formal microbiology report, taking it from a cold statement of scientific findings about a specimen received by the laboratory, to a document that explains what these scientific findings might mean in the context of the requesting information provided and any other intelligence already available to the person reporting the results.
This for example is what a report might have said prior to narrative reporting. It has a standard format with Microscopy at the top followed by the organism that we grew, followed by the sensitivities we have reported.
While this is an accurate report from the laboratory, we began to appreciate that without reflecting the report in the clinical context, the report might be viewed as confirming infection and recommending the use of an antibiotic. We therefore began to review the clinical information written on the request form and reporting in the light of the information supplied. We then add narrative in the context of the clinical information provided and seek to answer questions posed or address the difficulties we encounter in interpreting the results.
The final innovation came as a result of watching junior doctors reading our results on a computer screen. We found that from a user point of view, the thing that was influencing behaviour was the list of antibiotics. The doctors stopped scrolling down the screen once they had viewed the sensitivities and the narrative comment was not viewed. We therefore move the position of the comment below the organism identified and before the sensitivity results.
You can explore the history around how we arrived at the role of narrative reporting and also get an understanding of how the narrative reporting uses a complexity science approach in more detail using the menus above or clicking the links in this paragraph.