Cardiac sonography, as a medical profession, is an often-overlooked but incredibly important part of the health care process. By using sonography and ultrasound techniques to view an image of the heart, issues such as heart disease, cancer, and other conditions can be found and treated if detected early enough. Through their ability to use ultrasound technology to view this vital organ, they carry with them tremendous responsibility, acting as the front lines for medical staff to deal with a heart-related problem.
Of course, the biggest problem facing cardiac sonographers today is the likelihood for medical malpractice, mostly stemming from negligence. Because sonographers do not diagnose conditions themselves – rather, they forward their findings to cardiologists in order to get their analysis before a diagnosis – there is little risk of direct accusations of misdiagnosis. Rather, they should not provide diagnoses; however, there are times when the interpretive data offered by a sonographer does not paint an accurate picture of the patient’s true medical condition. Due to insufficient physician review, this misdiagnosis can lead to the wrong kind of treatment, either failing to fix the problem or even making it worse.
Also, there can be instances in which a cardiac sonographer can miss vital clues that could have pointed to a serious condition within the heart. For example, a patient could come in complaining of chest pains. A cardiac sonogram is requested, which is then performed. However, either due to improper training or other factors that contribute to a sonographer’s negligence, the sonographer finds that there is nothing wrong with the patient’s heart, and passes that on to the cardiologist. The cardiologist then has improper or missing information with which they advise the patient to wait a day or two to see if the pain subsides. However, the patient turns out to have a malicious tumor on their heart which is pressing against the ribcage, causing the pain; since the sonographer missed it, the patient refrains from getting another sonogram, until it is too late to operate on. These kinds of cases threaten to become more prevalent unless steps are taken to improve sonographer quality of practice.
These types of negligence can lead to heart disease, a diminished quality of life, and in some cases, death. With these things in mind, steps must be taken to give cardiac sonographers the tools necessary to avoid these missed opportunities for analysis, and give them the training and drive to perform the best procedures that they are capable of. First of all, physician review must be put in place; without any kind of oversight, a misdiagnosis or missed anomaly due to negligence is just around the corner for any given sonogram. Secondly, proper training has to be emphasized in regards to the training of these sonographers, so that they can more easily and accurately identify the proper markers and signposts for problems. Finally, sonographers must be prohibited or discouraged from offering substantial interpretive assertions in their findings; they are merely intended to show the cardiologist what shows up on the scan, which they then interpret into a diagnosis.
Cardiac sonography is a very delicate, potentially life-saving aspect of the medical field; it allows physicians and cardiologists to see heart problems while they are still solvable. However, due to a combination of negligence and misplaced diagnosis, they can sometimes be a danger. By improving education, conditions and ethics, sonographers, there can be far fewer instances of malpractice within a healthcare setting.