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Diagnostic imaging

Physician teams receive ultrasound training

CHATHAM, Ont. – By mid-May, all emergency physicians at the Chatham and Sydenham campuses of the Chatham Kent Health Alliance will have had training and certification on ultrasound systems. As such, they will become only the third centre in Canada to have an entire physician team certified in this way.

Currently, 12 CKHA emerg doctors will spend the next 40 days performing 200 specific scans under the tutelage of Canadian Emergency Ultrasound Society (CEUS) master instructors.

“This is one of the many initiatives that we are investing in at CKHA for physician retention and recruitment. The physicians have said ‘this is what we really want to strengthen and bolster (our) skills in,’ said Paula Reaume-Zimmer, director of CKHA mental health and addictions and emergency services.

The program costs approximately $100,000 and was funded by the Pay For Results program through the Local Integrated Health Network.

Reame-Zimmer said keeping current with technology and new practices allows for improved quality of care to the patient and helps reduce wait times.

Dr. Dale Pepper, an emergency physician, agrees. “In the middle of the night when we want to be more certain that somebody’s not got blood in their abdomen, or water on their heart . . . you get an answer in 5-10 minutes, he said.

The alternative is to call in a surgeon, radiologist and a technician and wait for results, which could take hours.

Certification allows emergency department doctors to rapidly diagnose the presence of water around the heart, free fluid or blood in the belly or an enlarged or ruptured aorta for trauma patients, as well as utilizing the technology to assess pregnant women with abdominal pain and bleeding.

“We want to rule out issues that are going on, medical problems that are going on, before we send a patient home. This gives our physicians an additional tool to do that with, Reaume-Zimmer said.

Dr. VuKiet Tran, who is training the doctors, said that certifying ED physicians has an immediate benefit to patients. “The main purpose of this is to reduce delay,” said Dr. Tran. “If the patient is unstable and not doing very well, we don’t have time to wait two hours. Something like this would be quick. We’d say ‘she’s got blood in the belly, she just had trauma, she needs to get to the operation room.’

Posted April 7, 2011