Rationale and objectives: Diagnostic ultrasound examinations may be performed after-hours by physicians if technologists are not available or cases are complex. Our experience suggested there is wide variability in how ultrasound coverage is provided after-hours, which motivated us to conduct a formal survey of teaching programs around the country.
Methods: Four hundred five members of the Association of Program Directors in Radiology were contacted by e-mail and sent a link to a five-part questionnaire posted on the Web. Respondents were asked whether ultrasound cases after-hours are performed in their institutions by radiology residents, technologists on the premises after-hours, technologists on-call, or some combination. Data on the type of program, number of beds in the primary hospital, number of residents in the program, and geographic location of the program were recorded. Responses were automatically written to a data file stored on a Web server and the imported into an Excel spreadsheet for data analysis. A chi(2) analysis was performed to assess associations among the variables and statistical significance.
Results: A total of 79 programs responded to the survey. Of those, 32% provided coverage with ultrasound technologists on call, 24% by ultrasound technologists on the premises, 13% provided combination coverage, and 10% provided coverage solely with residents on call. There was no association among number of residents in the program, location of the program, or type of program (university, community, or affiliated) and type of coverage provided.
Conclusion: There is wide variability in methods for providing coverage of after-hours ultrasound cases. However, on-site or on-call coverage of emergency cases by technologists did not appear to depend significantly on program location, program type, or program size.