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Loss of Mammography Images (Posted 4/2/2014)
The Radiation Safety Section (RSS) received notification from a mammography facility that, due to an abrupt disruption of power, the facility lost the digital mammography images from up to 1700 patients. The power disruption caused damage to two of the five hard drives in the mammography machine's mini-PACS. After the hard drives were replaced only images from the initial inception of digital imaging in February 2013 were recovered and fully restored. Images from September and October of 2013 were still available on the mammography machine and were pushed back to the PACS archive. The images from February to September of 2013 were unable to be retrieved.
The facility attempted to recover the missing images from the external hard drives used for daily offsite back-up. The data on the external disks was found to be corrupted and the image data was not fully retrievable. After this event the facility reinstated tape back-up and has developed a procedure to monitor the function of the backup systems on a monthly basis.
The Ionizing Radiation Rules of the State of Michigan and the federal Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) regulations require facilities to retain patient's mammography images for a minimum of seven years. While the regulations do not specify an approved standard for the storage of digital mammography images, RSS recommends facilities meet the ACR–AAPM–SIIM Technical Standard for Electronic Practice of Medical Imaging which states:
For facilities practicing electronic radiology, quality patient care depends on the stability and reliability of the digital image data management system. Written policies and procedures must be in place to ensure continuity of care at a level consistent with those for hard-copy imaging studies and medical records within a facility or institution. They should include internal redundancy systems, backup telecommunication links, disaster recovery, and business continuity plan.
Future mammography inspections by RSS may include review of the facility's procedures to ensure adequate archiving and storage of digital mammography images.