Great Unexpectations

Beautiful young teenager on bed staring at the

Cherie paused the probe and zoomed in just a little bit more. Was that two yolk sacs she was seeing? “You don’t happen to have a history of twins in your family, do you?” she asked the abortion-vulnerable patient lying on the table in the dimly lit ultrasound room.

“I’m a twin,” she responded with excitement in her voice. “ Am I having twins?”

She looked closely seeing only one heartbeat and one fetal pole. Cherie printed a couple of pictures for her, being sure not to include any measurements on there, and turned off the machine.

“It looks like there were two pregnancies, but only one baby is developing. Let’s have you come back in a couple of weeks so we can verify. It’s still early—early enough that you couldn’t get prenatal care quite yet at a doctor’s office.”

She and her boyfriend left the clinic, and I sent my report to the physician as always. A couple of weeks later the patient returned. I could tell she was grieving the baby that didn’t make it. I scanned her, confirming my findings that there was just one baby.

“Do you understand what I’m telling you?” I asked after explaining that there was nothing in the other yolk sac.

“I do. I posted the ultrasound picture you gave me on Facebook and a friend of mine thought she saw two babies. I got kind of worried about it, so I asked a friend of mine who’s a sonographer and she confirmed what you just told me that there is no second baby.” Her eyes fell to her belly where her hand rested. The sadness was palpable in the tiny room.

Cherie grieved with the young woman, but she was also filled with shock. The patient had posted her ultrasound images on Facebook? Her images were seen by countless people and scrutinized—looking for where she made a mistake. Fortunately, there was no mistake. Her images withstood the scrutiny. She had done everything right.

I spoke with Cherie about her experience and we chatted about this new era we live in where information is so readily accessible. In my preparation for the interview, I researched medical information and social media. I discovered in this article that 18 to 24 year olds are two times as likely than 45-54 year olds to use social media for health-related discussions (source: Mediabistro) and that 90% of that same age group would trust medical information shared by others on their social media networks (source: Search Engine Watch).

PMC’s should know that 41% of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility (source: Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group).

And most relevant to Cherie’s situation is that 30% of adults are likely to share information about their health on social media sites with other patients, 47% with doctors, 43% with hospitals, 38% with a health insurance company and 32% with a drug company (source: Fluency Media). This number will only continue to grow as more and more young people use social media to discuss their personal health situations.

Why is this important for Pregnancy Medical Clinics to consider? Cherie put it this way, “The training I got with [then Sonography Now] Sparrow was good enough. I was able to withstand the court of public opinion because of my training.”

Cherie gave two take-aways from her experience:

  • Quality training is of utmost importance—if we as community health organizations who specialize in early pregnancy are going to stand up to the scrutiny of public opinion, we must have excellent training. Sparrow Solutions Group offers quality training with a sufficient number of hands-on scans. Cherie told me, “I needed the number of scans Connie offers through her ultrasound course. It’s not as easy as it looks, so practice was crucial to being able to master the hand-eye coordination.”
  • Yearly Evaluations and Refreshers are critical—everyone has areas where they need to improve. Everyone. Yearly evaluations are vital in making sure there are no holes in your methods. Refreshers are also important in making sure that nothing has been forgotten since the initial training.

“Our images have to be so good that we don’t fail in the arena of public opinion. I passed the test,” Cherie told me. “I’m not trying to be a salesman, but it was my training and the amount of practice I was able to get through Sparrow’s program, that enabled me to pass that test.”

Quality medical training was the deciding factor in this case. If Cherie had had inadequate images, things could have turned out much differently.

“I handed her a picture for her to share with her friends and family. I never expected that image to be posted and second-guessed on Facebook by anyone and everyone. Your images have to be excellent because they will be posted on social media.”

Is your clinic ready to pass the test? Have you invested in excellent training? Are you being reassessed yearly? In the day and age of social media, will your clinic be able to withstand the scrutiny of its medical practices?

Kim Griggs
Sparrow Solutions Group

Sparrow Sonography


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