Unfortunately, the answer is no. Yesterday, NBC News reported that Xerox scanners using a compression algorithm called JBIG2 were changing characters during the scanning process. That’s right!
6s randomly become 8s!
No worries, you don’t scan anything and hope the scanned version is an exact copy of the original, do you? Of course you do.
If you work for a sponsor or CRO, you scan protocols, case report forms, contracts with clinical investigator sites, … all kinds of trial master file documents. Never mind the non-GxP business records like purchase orders and invoices.
If you work for a health care provider, you scan medical records and probably destroy the paper records.
What’s a scanner to do?
Prospectively, you should always validate the computer system (including the process and equipment) used to produce scanned copies. Research the compression algorithms available to you on the scanner you choose and make sure you’re using the algorithm that meets your needs. Then find a way to lock the configuration or, if that is not possible, check the configuration before scanning to make sure some well-meaning person trying to save space hasn’t changed it.
Retrospectively, read more about the problem on NBC and get details about which Xerox scanners are at risk on D. Kriesel’s blog. Check your scanner settings. If you’ve been using the JBIG2 compression algorithm, I’d recommend carefully checking your scanned documents to make sure they are accurate. This is a level of QC that users typically don’t do. Why would they? Who knew?
The good news?
“The error does not occur if PDFs are scanned with OCR, or TIFs are scanned (the latter seems plausible, as the pure image data should be saved into the TIF).” – D. Kriesel
Do yourself a favor
Check back with D. Kriesel’s blog frequently. Now that the problem has been identified, people all over the world are working to replicate the problem and find solutions.