What is a Sonographer?
A sonographer is a specialised type of medical imaging technologist who performs diagnostic scans using ultrasound. Patients are referred by their doctor or other clinician for ultrasound scans of a wide range of conditions including musculoskeletal conditions, pregnancy scans, childhood health issues, conditions affecting the abdominal organs, pelvis, and for urological, ENT and vascular disorders, and echocardiography.
Most sonographers work in consultation with, or under the supervision of a radiologist, to ensure that adequate and appropriate diagnostic views have been obtained based on the individual clinical situation. Ultrasound image quality is highly operator-dependent and machine-dependent, and thus scan quality is dependent on the skill of the sonographer, the quality of the equipment, and the level of communication between the sonographer and the supervising radiologist.
In Australia, sonographers are required to meet a number of requirements to gain accreditation, including an undergraduate degree such as a Bachelor of Medical Imaging or other health sciences, followed by 2 years of part time clinical ultrasound training to obtain a Diploma of Medical Ultrasound. Eligible graduates are accredited with the Australasian Sonographer Accreditation Registry.
Many sonographers undertake additional training in specialised areas of ultrasound including vascular, musculoskeletal, obstetric ultrasound and echocardiography.
Can a Sonographer receive Medicare benefits for an Ultrasound scan?
Medicare billing requirements for reporting and supervision of Diagnostic Ultrasound in a metropolitan area specifies : “the patient has a request, and a specialist in diagnostic radiology provides or supervises the service”. In Australia, all ultrasound studies must be reported by a specialist doctor, usually a radiologist, to meet medico-legal and Medicare eligibility standards.
Some imaging practices may not have a radiologist or other specialist doctor on site to supervise ultrasound studies, and in some cases may actually outsource ultrasound reporting to remote 3rd party radiologist providers – in some instances even interstate.
At Panorama Radiology Specialists we believe that adherence to best practice standards is paramount to ensuring the highest standard of patient care, safety and diagnostic accuracy, to achieve optimal clinical outcomes for our patients and referring clinicians.
Collaboration and communication within a medical imaging team is essential, and at PRS our experienced supervising radiologist is on-site to supervise ultrasound studies, perform procedures, consult with our highly skilled sonographers, review complex cases, and offer guidance on appropriate imaging pathways or imaging-guided procedures that may be beneficial in a patient’s individual clinical situation.