What Can an Ultrasound Technician Tell You?

Ultrasound technicians are trained professionals, but they are not doctors

Ultrasound technician

Over the years I have read many personal stories of miscarriages, and one often recurring theme is that people will often have confusing experiences with ultrasound technicians. They will recount their frustration in the stories that an ultrasound tech will have gotten a concerned look and turned the screen away, then left the room while refusing to answer questions. Naturally, the women having the miscarriages will feel confused and hurt that the ultrasound tech wouldn't answer any questions or give information.

What Qualifications Do Ultrasound Technicians Have? 

Ultrasound technicians are trained to perform ultrasounds, but because they are not doctors or nurses, they are not permitted to provide diagnoses—even if they can correctly identify an issue. Unlike doctors, who undergo four years of college, four years of medical school, and a residency training program, ultrasound technicians do not have a comparable medical degree. Ultrasound technician training can be anywhere from an 8-week certificate program to a two-year associate's degree program, although it is possible to get your bachelor's or master's degree in diagnostic sonography. These varying degree programs are typically certified by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your sonographer has the letters RDMS after their name, it means they are a registered diagnostic medical sonographer and have passed the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) exam.

What an Ultrasound Technician Does

Ultrasound technicians or sonographers are trained to operate ultrasound machines and take measurements. Since they are not medical practitioners, they are not qualified to give out medical diagnoses. Many physicians are trained in how to operate ultrasound machines and may perform ultrasounds in their offices, in which case you might receive your diagnosis at the same time as your ultrasound.

If your ultrasound is being performed by a technician, the technician most likely will not be allowed to tell you what the results mean. In that case, you will have to wait for a call from your physician. Since the images appear instantly, the results are available as soon as the doctor reviews the images.

If you are concerned about the results of your ultrasound while the ultrasound is being conducted, you can always ask the technician to speak to a doctor or nurse once the ultrasound is complete.