I was recently asked a question about digital pathology I had never given much thought to.
The question came out of a discussion relating to storage needs for digital pathology, particularly in a full adoption mode for 100% sign-out. There are matters of capacity, live versus archival, storage time, redundancy, backups, etc…
A colleague of mine recently had his external 1 TB hard drive "crash". Every powerpoint lecture, reams of research data, manuscripts, personal files & 25,000 mp3 files were thought to be lost. He neglected to backup any of it obviously. A commercial service restored the disk with everything but the music files. We all know this happens routinely. He did this only recently due to some constraints on enterprise servers and personal storage available on the institutional network and issues with file loss on shared folders with larger capacity.
A clock starts ticking the day you first use such a device that overtime will determine when some mechanical or software function will fail and loss is inevitable, in my opinion. It has happened to me twice, both after about 3 years of use with varying sized drives and manufacturers. Both times mirror drives caused no loss of any data.
In pathology we are careful to track what and how much tissue was collected, how may blocks are made, slides from those blocks, stains, recuts, slides sent-out, etc…
As we discuss storage needs and requirements for digital pathology we will have to think about similar issues and disaster recovery plans.
It made me think – what is our disaster recovery plan for stored tissue, wax blocks & glass slides?
I can't recall ever seeing a procedure or policy to address this issue at any institution.
In case of fire, flood or hurricane what do you do? What is your lab/institution's policy?
This hospital can trace its roots back to a tornado devastating the town. The images can always be re-created assuming the real raw data is there to be had.