The SCoR questions European position statement on ultrasound

Best practice statement fails to mention role of sonographers

Published: 19 July 2021 Sonography

The SCoR has questioned a European position statement on best practice in ultrasound for failing to mention the role of radiographers and sonographers.

A statement on the use of ultrasound from the European Society of Radiology (ESR) ultrasound subcommittee was published in Insights Into Imaging journal in December 2020.

The document aimed to summarise best practice recommendations for medical imaging use of ultrasound in Europe, representing the agreed consensus of experts from the ultrasound subcommittee of the ESR, the European Union of Medical Specialists Section of Radiology, and the European Federation of Societies for Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology. Recommendations were given for education and training, equipment and its maintenance, documentation, hygiene and infection prevention, and medico-legal issues.

The SCoR joined the Royal College of Radiologists, the Consortium for the Accreditation of Sonographic Education, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the British Medical Ultrasound Society and the Royal College of Midwives, in writing to commend the ESR for highlighting the need for high quality education in ultrasound, but also expressed disappointment.

'We are disappointed to note that the ESR “strongly” recommends ultrasound use by doctors, without mention of the role that radiographers and sonographers have in the provision of high quality ultrasound services around the globe. In some cases, for example the UK, independent reporting non-medical ultrasound practitioner (sonographer) roles have been in place for decades and there is evidence from across Europe and further afield of the effectiveness of sonographer practice.' The letter was also an opportunity to highlight the lack of statutory regulation of sonographers in the UK.

The ESR ultrasound subcommittee in turn responded: 'Our principal goal is to promote appropriate use of ultrasound as an imaging modality, and to define standards for such use, in the best interests of patients. Matters of licensing, registration, qualifications and regulation of who performs ultrasound imaging are specific to each country, and vary widely across Europe. Such matters, while of importance within each individual country, are beyond the scope of ESR publications on standards'.