Do standards really make a difference?

Do standards really make a difference?

Some recent problems in Mammography make it abundantly clear that they do.  Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) got reports indicating that image quality from a number of full-field digital mammography (FFDM) units was being compromised when their images were displayed on some third-party picture archiving and communication systems (PACS).  Specifically, FDA noted that the image identification information may obscure breast tissue on hard copy images.  As a consequence, a radiologist could overlook or misplace suspicious lesions, a problem that escalates when images end up at facilities unfamiliar with the configuration of equipment originally used to perform the mammogram.  Thus, on July 29 the FDA recommended, "all facilities check to ensure that all image-identifying information is correctly displayed on all their soft and hard-copy mammography images."  Certainly, that's good advice, but how do you prevent such problems?

The August 4 issue of Diagnostic Imaging Online states, "This issue highlights why it is critical for purchasers of digital mammography, mammography computer-aided detection, and PACS and workstation equipment to contractually bind their vendors to strict support of all relevant portions of the DICOM standard as well as the technical frameworks of the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise initiative, specifically the Mammography Image Integration Profile, said Dr. David S. Channin, chief of imaging informatics at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago."  "‘These standardization efforts are specifically focused on reducing these kinds of interoperability issues across systems and vendors,' Channin told Diagnostic Imaging."

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