Excellent Article Review Written by a Radiography Student: The 10 commandments of Sonography

Written by: Jessica Richards

1/25/10

Merton’s Ten Commandments of Sonography

Inspired by Pope Benedict XVI’s new rendition of the Ten Commandments as it applies to driver’s safety, Daniel A. Merton conjured one of his own.  His spin on the Ten Commandments centers around sonography guidelines.  Although his article is directed specifically towards sonography, I find that these principles can be applied to the practice of radiography as well.

Merton’s Ten Commandments, without further involvement with the SDMS or AIUM organizations, presents guidelines to become a successful sonographer.  His topics involve qualifications and becoming certified, taking a proper medical history and applying it to the exam, using standard scanning protocols, taking a good image, ethics, respect and safety for patients, educating others, and maintaining a professional demeanor.  He further defines these topics with specific suggestions to becoming a good sonographer and breaks down his “Ten Commandments.”  These same applications can be related to radiography.

The first guideline is, “Thou shall perform sonographic examinations only if qualified to do so.” I relate this to a radiographer performing an exam to the optimal level of their ability, and not outside their level of education.  This involves not trying to diagnose a patient even though it may be evident on film, or attempting to insert an IV if not properly trained to do so.  This principle could be discarded by an overzealous radiographer.

The second Commandment says, “Thou shall obtain personal certifications and maintain continuing medical education requirements.” This involves becoming certified and encourages furthering one’s education.  I think this is especially important with the technological advances in the field.  For example, the transition from CR to DR.  Any additional training in other modalities would be beneficial to a technologist.

The next states, “Thou shall use all the available information during the performance of sonography examinations.” It’s important for a radiographer, as well, to take a proper medical history.  A patient’s condition or certain pathologies will require a radiographer to alter their technique.  This is vital to obtaining an accurate image for the radiologist to make a proper diagnosis.

“Thou shall utilize standard scanning protocols.” Each radiographer has their own techniques they select to get a passable image.  Though these techniques may be slightly different, it should fall within an acceptable range while following the ALARA principle.

The next Commandment, “Thou shall properly annotate thy image.” I relate this to positioning the patient correctly, and efficiently manipulating the equipment.  This will decrease the likelihood of having to repeat an exam.

“Thou shall perform thy responsibilities in an ethical manner.” As a radiographer, it is crucial to perform an exam without discrimination.  This involves eliminating any preconceived notions one could have about a patient.  I also feel patient confidentiality and anonymity could fall under this category.  A patient’s circumstances should not be discussed outside of assessing the patient.

“Thou shall educate patients and other healthcare professionals.” Patients should have a full understanding of their situation in order to make the proper decision about their medical care.  This could involve answering questions about why a radiograph is being taken.  It’s also important to be informative to surrounding healthcare workers.  If a nurse wants to stand in the room while an exam is performed, it would be the responsibility of the radiographer to explain the harm the radiation could have.

“Thou shall respect thy patients.” All patients should be treated in a respectable manner.  This involves not speaking down to them or a family member of theirs. Treating their situation with sensitivity and being considerate of their needs and feelings.  It is also important to take into consideration how a patient may feel about their body, and to be delicate with possible insecurities.

“Thou shall promote patient safety.” Accessing a patient’s physical capabilities can determine how an exam will be performed.  An example of this is whether or not a patient can stand for a radiograph to be taken.  Proper shielding and technique should be practiced, as well as always following the ALARA principle.  This should always be a top priority for a radiographer.

The last Commandment discussed is, “Thou shall demonstrate professionalism.” A radiographer is considered an expert in their field, and should take pride in their abilities by demonstrating a professional demeanor.  This means having proper décor, taking on responsibilities, representing their establishment, and treating patients and coworkers with respect.

Merton’s creative portrayal of the Ten Commandments outlines important guidelines to become a successful sonographer.  These concepts, I have found, are also pertinent to a radiographer’s responsibilities.  The culmination of these ideas should be remembered and practiced on a daily basis to ensure the patient is getting optimal quality care.

Advance , “Merton’s Ten Commandments of Sonography.”  By Daniel A. Merton.  Pg 7

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One Response to “Excellent Article Review Written by a Radiography Student: The 10 commandments of Sonography”

  1. Amanda says:

    As a sonographer, I say Amen.

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