Make sure you have a consistent, logical system for naming your images …

After taking the time to find a good image and make some measurements and annotate it clearly, it only makes sense to give the image a file name that will make finding it again in the future easy and straightforward. Having well-organized archives of your images, each consistently and accuratly named, also makes your records all the more bullet-proof.

(Note: If you elect to use the faster method of saving your images, the ultrasound itself will assign a random number as the file name, though it will put the image into a folder designating the patient’s name. You may elect to archive them this way, or you may want to right-click the images after you have moved them to your computer and choose RENAME to give them a more specific name like the file names I describe below.)

You may use any system you like, of course, but there is one particular format I recommend as perhaps the most effective.

 

Naming Your Images

First, decide whether you are going to type in the full name on the ultrasound itself, or if you are simply going to put in the patient’s name and leave creating the full file name to whatever assistant or nurse you assign to move the images from the USB thumb drive to a computer in your office at the end of the day. If you do not mind typing it all out, that is fine; but if you want to save a little time, you might simply put in the patient’s last name (or even simply the number 1, then 2, then 3, etc., as you perform ultrasounds across the day) and let your nurse rename the files after she moves them to computer.

Whether you give the full name to the image on the ultrasound itself when you are saving it, or you simply put in the patient’s name and let somone on your staff expand the name after it has been moved to the computer, here is the format we recommend for the end result:

YYMMDDlastnamefirstinitial#

Meaning, you would start with the two-digit year, then the two-digit month, then the two-digit day … then put in the patient’s last name, followed by first initial, and then (if there are multiple images for that patient that day) numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.).

For example, if Jane Smith visited your office February 15th, 2009, and you performed two ultrasound scans on her, you would name the two images:

090215smithj1
090215smithj2

Using this format, all of your ultrasound image files saved on the computer will stack up in chronological order, making it easy to search for images according to when they were taken.

An alternative, if you think it would be better to have the list sort automatically according to the patients’ last names, you could do it this way:

lastnamefirstnameYYMMDD

The advantage of the first method is that it will automatically arrange all of yoru file according to date, whereas the advantage of the other is that all of your "Smith Jane" files will all stack up together. Either of these formats would be just fine. The important thing is to simply decide upon a system for naming the image files and stick to it.

If you follow a system like this, it makes it easy for someone on your staff to attach the images to the corresponding EMR patient records, and even makes it easy to have your nurse pull up specific images very rapidly at a later date simply from the "Ultrasound Image" master folder on your computer.

And it definitely makes your records look considerably more professional.