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Pendleton hospital loses X-rays

Pendleton hospital loses X-rays

PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — The crash of computer hard drives has vaporized thousands of digital X-ray files, and St. Anthony Hospital officials are busy providing patients with new X-ray information.

The hospital has sent letters to 900 patients to tell them that a hard-drive failure by General Electric led to the loss of more than 5,000 archived images. General Electric provides the hospital's imaging equipment and stores its digital X-rays.

Hospital Chief Executive Officer Jeff Drop said doctors tried to access some of the images earlier this year and learned of the loss.

"Four of five hard drives crashed," Drop said. "GE tried to scrub the hard drives and get the images back, but they couldn't."

St. Anthony entered into the relationship with GE in January 2004.

If all had gone as expected, the images would have gone from short-term storage into a long-term archiving system.

"The actual pictures are gone and will never come back. The written reports are still there," Drop said.

Letters to hospital radiology patients, signed by Drop and each patient's physician, encouraged them to make an appointment to have images retaken.

The hospital will redo X-rays at no cost to patients or their insurance companies.

"They will get their pictures retaken and reinterpreted and sent on their way," Drop said.

Letters were sent only to those patients who would benefit from getting images retaken, he said.

The discovery of the lost images meant hundreds of hours of poring line by line over written X-ray reports.

"It's a monumental task," he said.

He said the company has reconfigured the system and created duplicate storage of archived images. Copies of the images will also go to a third long-term storage in Denver.

Information from: East Oregonian, http://www.eastoregonian.info