When you think of a ultrasound you will probably imagine smiling parents-to-be catching a first glimpse of their child in a scan.
But the technology is being use in an innovative new way by Dewsbury doctors to ensure their patients get life saving drugs and fluids.
Dewsbury and District Hospital is the first in the UK to train junior doctors to safely insert canulas using ultrasounds.
Canulas are tube that used to deliver fluids or drugs, and can often be difficult to fit, especially when treating elderly patients.
This means that only senior staff can perform the more complex procedures, sometimes meaning delays in treatment can occur.
But now junior doctors are being trained to fit canulas aided by mobile ultrasound scanners.
Dr Asoka Weerasinghe, of Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, which runs the hospital, said: “Ultrasound is like a third eye and it allows us to see where we can safely thread the needle and insert the cannula. This decreases the need for multiple attempts that not only cause
delays in inserting a cannula but also cause the patient discomfort and increased risk of infection.”
Emergency medicine consultant Dr Patrick Tung said: “The process needs to be done quickly and for somebody with meningitis getting antibiotics into the system can be the difference between life and death.”
As junior doctors are the first point of contact for patients needing cannulas, emergency medicine consultants Drs Weerasinghe, Tung, Okereke and their team developed a training course called JUST (Junior doctors Ultra Sound Training), funded by the Foundation School of Health Education and Humber.
Response to the training – run at the Hospital’s Oakwell centre - has been positive and places have already been filled for future courses.
Dr Weerasinghe added: “We have been inundated with emails not only from West Yorkshire but from East and South of the county.
“It doesn’t matter whether it is Sheffield or London, this course should be run wherever there is need. This has never been done before and we have set a UK precedent here in Dewsbury.
“Young people like technology and so it is good to see them acquiring skills in ultrasound so that they can work independently. Ultrasound devices look like laptops, are accessible and can be moved quickly. They are playing a key role in reassuring patients and saving lives.”