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Ultrasound proposed for emergencies

The uses of ultrasound technology now far exceed and transcend simply moving an expecting mother to tears with images of her fetus miraculously coming to life on a computer screen.

Dr. Mark Borden of Whidbey General Hospital explained to hospital commissioners at Monday’s board meeting that ultrasound could be a boon to emergency department efficiency.

With the capability of scanning gall bladders for stones, which show up with amazing clarity, it significantly — and safely — speeds up treatment.

With no available rooms, Borden recounted for the board a recent juggling act that included double digit patients waiting for assistance and two ambulances en route from Oak Harbor Naval Hospital.

“Our time is getting very precious,” he said.

In the situation Borden described, the option of using ultrasound could have proven invaluable.

He said St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham has been utilizing the technology in its emergency department with positive results. Borden added that Whidbey General could wait two or three years before seriously considering the investment, but he felt getting up to speed with area facilities is a positive step.

He cautioned the hospital board and administration, however, from pouring money into a system now that becomes obsolete almost immediately. Waiting as long as possible will buy the medical facility much more for its money.

“Ultrasound machines right now are changing so rapidly,” Borden said.

But keeping up with the Dr. Joneses is not the impetus, rather the much improved patient safety ultrasound affords. Locating veins for catheters can be a timely maneuver. With the aid of ultrasound, it is greatly simplified.

“It’s a huge timesaver,” Borden said.

Unable to mask his passion for the job, Dr. Borden’s somewhat esoteric presentation effectively showed the board very cool uses for ultrasound machines.

Dr. Paul Zaveruha said he supports the technology, but questioned the viability and safety should medical staff unfamiliar with the machine or not properly trained be placed in a position to pass on vital information to surgeons.

Scott Rhine, Whidbey General chief executive officer, agreed that when qualified staff are at the reins, the machines could cut down on time.

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