COVID-19 – “The Sonographers Dilemma”

March 19, 2020

COVID-19 – “The Sonographers Dilemma”

This is a personal account of my feelings, thoughts and learnings as a Sonographer/Tutor Sonographer in a Private Practice setting in Australia!

Are your anxiety levels running high?  Mine are!

I’m worried about my elderly Grandparents (90 and 92), my parents, and all of those friends and family in the community who have weaker immunity.

How is this Corona Virus Pandemic going to play out in your region?

How do we as Sonographers help contain the spread, and keep ourselves safe when we are UNABLE to  maintain “Social distancing”.  As Sonographers our patients are close, and we are often in the room with them for 20-30 minutes at a time.

Currently in Australia where I am based, confirmed numbers are relatively low.  But anxiety levels are excessive.  My question especially as a Sonographer in a Private Practice setting, is how do we keep ourselves safe/limit our exposure, to the active virus?  How do we ensure that we don’t contribute to the spread? To our patients and our loved ones?

Currently we are following the Australian Government Department of Health Guidelines (https://www.health.gov.au/)

  • People who have been overseas in the past 14 days are required to self-isolate and will not be examined (can postpone appointment)
  • People who have come into contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 are also required to self-isolate for 14 days and will not be examined (can postpone appointment)
  • People who have a fever are also asked to re-schedule their appointment.

But what about those people who may have contracted the virus via community transmission (unknowingly) and are asymptomatic.  These are the people we sonographers my encounter.

I watched the ISUOG webinar on the 17/03/2020  and want to share “ my personal key learnings” from the speakers.  The entire webinar can be found at:

Prof Francesco Castelli (Italy), accentuated how quickly the virus spreads, and that it is highly infectious amongst health workers.   He also said that often first testing of the virus can provide a False negative reading…. So be cautious.  If clinical symptoms fit, then treat as COVID-19 as precaution.  He also said that once testing positive, it may take up to 3 weeks for a patient to be non-infectious (not be contagious).

Dr Jill Lee Cheng Sim (Singapore), discuss how the Singaporean health care system had learnt from the SARS outbreak in 2009, where 25% of health care workers were infected.  To date on 1% of health care workers have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.

This is attributed to:

  • Protective equipment and good infection control training.
  • General preventative measures and PPE use.

Also remember to support colleagues, be aware of Mental and social health.

Prof Liona Poon (HK) stated that they wear a mask at all times whilst at work and that even at lunch personal hygiene etiquette (Social Distancing) should be maintained.  This is how health care workers in Wuhan enabled the disease unknowingly.  The appropriate masks have been stated as N2/N95.  That staff in Hong Kong also change their clothes and shower prior to coming home.  Preventing any spread via clothing.

A guide to the correct use of the N2/N95 mask can be found at this site:

https://www.health.qld.gov.au/clinical-practice/guidelines-procedures/diseases-infection/infection-prevention/transmission-precautions/p2n95-mask

I have started implementing my learnings from Tuesdays nights Webinar immediately.  Here is a photo of me with my new fashion accessory  “N2 mask” (Getting use to the feeling on my face)….. trying not to hyperventilate😊

I am continuing with all my usual behaviours also.  Gloving for all patients, cleaning the room and probes thoroughly between patients.

Changed my clothes prior to leaving work and showered as soon as I got home!

We all need to stick together at these tough times.  Stay safe.

Please feel free to touch base with questions/discussion😊

Gail

Director/Tutor Sonographer/Sonographer (Integrated Ultrasound Education)

Email: gail@iuc.consulting.com.au