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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: Annals of Laboratory Medicine Volume 33, Issue 1, 2013, Pages 1-7 The published version is available at DOI: 10.3343/alm.2013.33.1.1. Copyright © The Korean Society for Laboratory Medicine.


A microscopic examination of an appropriately prepared and well-stained blood smear by a knowledgeable laboratory professional is necessary and clinically useful in a number of circumstances and for a variety of reasons. In this article, an attempt is made to delineate the purpose and criteria for blood smear examination in a variety of circumstances that are encountered in everyday laboratory hematology practice. A blood smear scan serves to at least (a) verify the flagged automated hematology results and (b) determine if a manual differential leukocyte count needs to be performed. Blood smear examination/manual differential leukocyte count with complete blood count (CBC) provides the complete hematologic picture of the case, at least from the morphologic standpoint. Blood smear review with or without interpretation serves to ensure that no clinically significant finding is missed, besides providing diagnosis or diagnostic clue(s), particularly if and when interpreted by a physician.

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