It’s that time of year! Here in Texas, the weather is a little cooler, Halloween candy is in the stores, and USDA reports are being generated! These reports are required by the Animal Welfare Act and must be submitted by December 1st, so October is when most folks start working on them.
This year, we have the option of using online submission, which is very exciting…but more on that later.
For now, let’s go over the best way to get data out of TOPAZ Elements to speed the collation of this data for your reports.
Within Elements, there are actually two ways you can track animal usage by pain category:
Prospective usage is the most common and is especially helpful at academic institutions. It is based on the theory that if you force the PI to specify their intended pain category when they order the animals, this will give an accurate usage representation over the course of a year. Under this method, animals are assumed to be used at their ordered pain category, unless we are told otherwise during the course of a protocol transfer.
Retrospective usage is for when you want to record actual usage in actual procedures as they are performed. This approach is generally less successful where the PIs are not a “captive audience”, and tends to be more useful in commercial organizations and/or outside the U.S.
In summary, for almost all Elements customers in the U.S., Prospective Usage is the method of choice.
To generate numbers to be used on the USDA report, the easiest method is to go to the Census/Reports menu and request the Prospective Usage Report. Enter the time period that corresponds to the desired report, then select either Generate or Export Generate will give you a PDF, Export will give you an Excel file.
The resulting report is organized by species and pain category and lists each protocol, along with the usage numbers. Each animal is counted only once (with some exceptions discussed below) based on the highest pain category involved. If you use the Excel export, some minimal Excel skills can yield the numbers needed for transcription onto your USDA form.
The Prospective Usage report will give you numbers for all the species you use, regardless of whether they are reportable or not. Note that if you do not individually identify some animals, then there are certain rare circumstances where Elements cannot keep a totally accurate track. If you perform more than one protocol transfer involving different pain categories on the same non-ID’d animal, Elements has no way to know that it is the same animal. This scenario is probably very rare and is a limitation of logic rather than of the software.
Use of the Retrospective Usage Report will not give you the data you need for your USDA report unless you are using Elements in a very particular way.
Good luck with your USDA reports this year!