Role of The Vascular Technologist and Preliminary Reports

Ultrasound is inherently technologist/Sonographer driven. The quality of the exam is dependent on the skill and knowledge of the Sonographer. If the vascular sonographer does not see or show a DVT most of the time the reading physician will miss it as well. This being said I recently received this message asking for me to ask a question publicly.

After reading please answer the poll in regard to your opinion on the subject.

Here is the question: Does anyone have issues or know anyone who has had legal issues due to a technologist ‘playing doctor’ and giving an impression of a venous Doppler study? Providing the results to an ER doctor, PA, nurse or primary care with out the study being finalized by the reading physician. The patient then being released by the ordering physician based on the preliminary result? Is this a common practice nationwide ? What are the legal implications for the technologist even if the facility is aware and the technologist documents the incident .

The Sonographer further stated: Thank you for your time – I am hesitant on posting this myself due to punitive action from my place of employment



Categories: Continuing Medical Education, health, medical imaging, mistakes, radiology, ultrasound education, vascular surgery, vein disease

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1 reply

  1. I am a RVT and have worked alongside Vascular Surgeons for more than 20 years. In this relatively young and quickly evolving careerfield it is the norm in the vast majority institutions for the highly trained Vascular Tecnologist to document their Preliminary Technologists Impression of the findings, especially if the exam is positive. Anyone that has a critical issue with this simply needs to be made aware of the importance of the preliminary impression. In a perfect world, waiting for the final physicians interpretation before receiving any hint of the findings would be appropriate. If a technologist that isn’t properly trained is providing an impression to the ordering MD and this causes concern, the focus should not be on whether or not an impression is given. The issue in this scenario is to question, why is an unqualified technician performing the exam in the first place. The role of the RVT is a critical one. Most Vascular Surgeons as well as Radiologists realize and appreciate the fact that their job would be near impossible and filled with errors leading to improper patient treatment without the RVT. Vascular Technologists should not be frowned upon for performing their duties, simply because some higher educated or perhaps less educated medical persons feel that the RVT is “playing Dr”. In my many years experience I have felt humbled that physicians respect and appreciate my trained opinion and impression of exams that I perform. I am not a physician, I am a Registered Vascular Technologist. Common sense has been the key to understanding the role we play in the healthcare field. I predict that in the future this role will only increase in responsibility. With proper oversight and understanding, upper level professionals in the field will learn to lean on and utilize this tool even more.

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