Doctor reveals potential of ultrasound for saving lives outside of hospital settings
The portability and ease of use of the latest generation of point-of-care ultrasound systems means they are increasingly being used outside of the traditional hospital setting, with a number of general practitioners now training to use ultrasound for a wide range of applications.
Dr Helen Williams, who divides her time between general practice and the Urgent Care Centre at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, explained the benefits: "I first became interested in ultrasound in 1999, when I was working in a termination of pregnancy clinic and picked up an ectopic pregnancy during a routine dating scan.
“That case made me realise that ultrasound has so many potential applications, and so I purchased a small portable machine for use in my general practice. I have since used ultrasound in a variety of settings, both in primary care and in hospitals, and currently have a SonoSite Edge system, which travels everywhere with me."
"Although ultrasound use is becoming more widely accepted in primary care, its use is still not widespread, despite the potentially life-saving applications. This is a real shame because, even as a GP, I think that you can genuinely save a life every few years through routinely using ultrasound.
“For example, a few months ago, I identified a large, potentially-fatal liver abscess in a patient complaining of shortness of breath and pain in the right side of his chest. He was taken straight to A&E, had it drained the same day, and was virtually back to normal within a month. It really can make that much of a difference.”