If you are keeping your images saved digitally, you want to make sure that they are safe. If your computer crashes, you don’t want to lose years and years of ultrasound records. A few simple precautions can make all the difference …

First, do not rely on saving your images exclusively on the USB thumb-drive you plug into the back of your ultrasound. (For that matter, do not rely on storing your images on the ultrasound itself either.) You want to save your images to the USB drive, but at the end of every day you should be moving those images over to your computer, where they can be more safely stored. Also, be sure you are following the correct procedure for moving images from your ultrasound to your computer, while properly “ejecting” your USB drive whenever you unplug it from your computer and go to move it back to your ultrasound. For notes on how to handle this properly, click here.

Second, once the images are on your computer, you want to make sure that they are organized in a way that allows you to pull them up as needed. The best way of doing this is to attach each image to the patient’s record in your electronic medical records. If you don’t have an EMR system, you can keep your images stored in a folder named “Ultrasound Images,” but try to organize them in a way that allows you to pull them up if needed. Normally the best way to do this is to organize all of your images into folders named after the patient’s name (normally last-name-first, so they sort alphabetically). Another approach is to include the date and the patient’s name in the file name of each image (for example, an image of Jane Smith captured July 4th 2010 might be named 100704smithjane, where you are using two digits for the year, followed by two digits for the month and two digits for the day, then the patient’s last name and first name).

Third, make sure to back up all of your ultrasound images at least once a month, and ideally once a week. You can usually do this in one of two ways:

  • Save the images as attachments to your EMR patient records, and have your entire server set to back up automatically.
  • Save the entire “Ultrasound Images” folder periodically to a separate USB thumb drive or burn a copy to CD or DVD (and store these in a file cabinet, where they are clearly marked “Ultrasound Image Back-Up Copies”).

In short, do not run the risk of losing your saved ultrasound images. Save them properly, organize them so that you can retrieve them when needed, and back up your entire library of saved images at least once a month.