Radiological images are increasingly exchanged in digital form using storage media, so-called "patient CDs/DVDs". This approach is desirable in principle since it allows for a lossless exchange of medical images in diagnostic original quality and, if need be, for an import into the digital infrastructure (PACS, diagnostic workstations) of the receiving institution. This enables the attending physician to perform a direct comparison between the current and any former examinations of the patient.
However, in practice it has shown that the exchange of radiological images and accompanying information on storage media still has many problems that are increasingly reported to the German Medical Association ("Bundesärztekammer") and the German Radiological Society ("Deutsche Röntgengesellschaft", DRG). In addition to ambiguity in the work processes at the receiving institution (e. g. registration of the patient in the RIS, import into a temporary archive, reconciliation of patient and order IDs before image import into a local PACS), erroneous and non standard conformant storage media are a significant hurdle for a seamless exchange of storage media.
Because of the multitude of vendors and medical institutions involved, it is hardly possible to address these issues in each single case. Against this background the German Radiological Society has decided to initiate a central Media Exchange Certification Project based on the following components:
• A specification for a "best practice" DICOM CD containing radiological image information was developed, to convey exchange of image data between medical institutions. It is recommended for vendors of systems creating patient CDs to adapt their products to this specification.
• In order to support receivers of such CDs in their workflow, Guidelines for Handling Media Containing Patient Information have been developed. These describe the work steps to be followed for visualization and import of images and documents from a patient CD.
• In order to give confidence to vendors and doctors to work with correct patient CDs, the DRG organizes a certification procedure for systems creating patient CDs according to the DRG CD specification.