As the ultrasound fellow, I have the privilege of scanning with the ultrasound faculty, all of our residents and all of our non-ultrasound faculty.  It is so refreshing to have such a variety to work with.  At times, the non-ultrasound faculty will bring issues to light that neither residents nor ultrasound faculty would.
On my most recent scanning shift, one of our faculty ended every encounter with a reassurance for the patient that “absolutely everything is normal.  Your heart is entirely normal.  All of your organs are normal.  You will live forever.”  The patients laughed and appreciated his humor, but each time, a little part of me died.  As soon as he stepped out of the room, I followed up with “Yes, Dr. X is a riot.  However, you should know that the ultrasound study we are doing today is limited and really looking to answer very focused questions.  This is not a comprehensive exam.”

Being scanned can be reassuring to patients.  You are taking the time to do  something that they don’t normally have done by their PMD, but your patients’ report of the results of the studies can be misconstrued by the patients themselves, their family, their providers, your colleagues in the ED, OB, Radiology.  So, when you are scanning your patients and you have answered your very focused questions for yourself, please, please save the humor for the next thought and let your patients know that this is not a comprehensive ultrasound, but a study designed only to answer very focused questions”.

June 2024