The Sharp Breast Ultrasound Technologist: The Key To A Well Run Practice!
In a thriving radiology practice, all technologists contribute to the functioning of the whole. However, one sort of technologist, in particular, can tip the balance between a smoothly run practice and disaster. Which one would that be? Well, if you read the title, you would know immediately!
Why is that a breast ultrasound technologist wields so much power over a successful radiology practice? Different from other technologists, I came up with three reasons why we rely on them so much. First, these technologists are the most “independent” out of all other technologists. Second, they require a good eye, more so than other technologists. And finally, they must have excellent hand-eye coordination. We will go into all three of these characteristics as well as what happens when your practice uses a suboptimal technologist.
Sure, most technologists have some sort of autonomy. I mean, CT techs need to set the parameters for the scans on their own. And, mammography techs must make sure that they perform all the QI prior to beginning a study. But, breast ultrasound technologists are special in this regard. When a breast sonographer leaves the room to perform a study, you cannot check the quality of their work directly. What do I mean by that? Sure, there are required images. However, the ultrasonographer can choose to show you whatever he deems important. Alternatively, this same tech can decide to leave out what they think is “unnecessary”.
I can’t think of any other sorts of technologists that have such independence of action. Almost always, you can check the work of a CT, mammography, MRI, or fluoro technologist. The body part is either complete or it isn’t. The breast tissue is all on the film or it’s not. On the other hand, with the ultrasound tech, you can never know if she has completed what she was supposed to. You need to rely on her word and her word alone.
What happens when the ultrasound technologist does not act independently? These technologists come reeling in and out of the reading room incessantly, asking questions and interrupting the workflow of the day. Furthermore, the radiologist’s stomach churns when he is not sure if the technologist knew what she was looking for. That means he needs to check and recheck everything that the breast ultrasound technologist completes. So much time wasted, such that the radiologist cannot attend to his other duties.
The “Good Eye”
Radiologists rely on the ability of breast ultrasound technologists to pinpoint a specific lesion on mammography. Or, they need to find the proverbial needle in a haystack on a screening ultrasound. In other words, they must keep constant awareness of their search. In addition, they need to be able to identify the shapes and abnormalities that they see on the mammogram. When you have a 350 pound patient with a large amount of breast tissue, this task becomes very difficult! A “good eye” varies widely among technologists, similar to radiologists. But, good technologists will reliably find what is needed and discard the impertinent findings in the breast.
I can’t tell you how many times a technologist without a “good eye” will search and search for something, only to have you, the radiologist, come in and find the lesion first. Imagine the hours of time over a lifetime that a radiologist needs to waste to compensate for the ultrasound technologist without a “good eye”!
Finally, an ultrasound technologist’s ability to scan patients relies upon a baseline level of coordination. This becomes important for two main reasons. First, the ultrasound technologist needs to find and rediscover a lesion. For instance, some lesions are tiny or roll off the transducer very easily. Good ultrasound technologists need a steady hand to create images of these abnormalities.
Furthermore, breast ultrasound technologists, in particular, play an important role in performing procedures to assist the radiologists with cyst aspirations and biopsies. They need to be able to keep the transducer on a specific plane at the time of a biopsy.
Frustrating is the singular word for performing procedures with a breast ultrasound technologist that has two left hands! Imaging studies and procedures can take triple the amount of time with a technologist that has poor coordination. That does not include contamination of the sterile field!
The Sharp Breast Ultrasound Technologist- The Key To A Well Run Practice
As you can see, a breast ultrasound technologist is much more than just another member of the imaging center team. Without a quality breast ultrasound technologist, the center becomes much less efficient and can fall apart at the seams. If you find a great one, this member of the team becomes the glue to holding the imaging center together. Keep her even if at a higher than average cost. Why? Because the costs to a practice pale in comparison with the damage if she leaves!