Prenatal 'Memory' Ultrasounds are Trendy Yet Risky in Wrong Hands; Darlene Ginnett, RDMS, Pacific Coast Ultrasound, Urges Expectant Parents to Scrutinize Credentials

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90 percent of expectant parents surveyed had little or incorrect knowledge about the short- and long-term risks of undergoing a 3D/4D ultrasound. Congratulations. You are having a baby. Now you can sit back and enjoy your nine months of pregnancy worry free. Right? "Wrong," says Darlene Ginnett, RDMS, CEO of Pacific Coast Ultrasound, a Los-Alamitos, CA-based certified independent diagnostic facility that specializes in prenatal ultrasound offering full diagnostics as well as 3D/4D limited diagnostic/elective ultrasounds.

Congratulations. You are having a baby. Now you can sit back and enjoy your nine months of pregnancy worry free. Right? "Wrong," says Darlene Ginnett, RDMS, CEO of Pacific Coast Ultrasound, a Los-Alamitos, CA-based certified independent diagnostic facility that specializes in prenatal ultrasound offering full diagnostics as well as 3D/4D limited diagnostic/elective ultrasounds.

Ginnett's important message is this: Now is the time to arm yourself with all sorts of vital healthcare information to ensure that you and your baby enjoy nine healthful months, starting with understanding the risks and benefits of choosing to have a trendy 3D/4D elective memory or "keepsake" ultrasound. Expectant parents should know that they have the choice of both worlds: a wonderful emotional look at their infant before birth and the assurance of medical safety by choosing carefully the facility for their memories ultrasound.

In a recent survey conducted by Los Alamitos-based Pacific Coast Ultrasound, it was alarming to discover that 90 percent of expectant parents surveyed had little or incorrect knowledge about the short- and long-term risks of undergoing a 3D/4D ultrasound. One of the most startling revelations was that expectant parents believed that all memories or "keepsake ultrasound facilities" are equal. They are not.

According to Ginnett, it is vitally important for the public to be aware of the difference between keepsake boutique and a full-service, regulatory compliant facility that provides full medical and physician oversight like Pacific Coast Ultrasound. She explains, "Patients have the right to ask about the credentials and supervision of the providing facility, which should employ only registered ARDMS technologists but also include a California board-certified radiologist and medical director. They have the right to ask if they can perform diagnostic examinations and bill healthcare insurance, in addition to providing elective prenatal sessions."

The memories ultrasound uses 3D and 4D technology to provide for an exciting preview of their baby with detailed graphic image quality and motion. Says Ginnett, "This can be a great way for you and your family to bond with your unborn baby, but it can also pose risks to you and your baby -- a fact very few 3D/4D facilities make public."

Why is this risky? Ginnett explains that these 3D/4D facilities are increasingly operated by non-medical professionals that provide these tests in unlicensed, and non-regulatory compliant facilities, often by poorly trained or untrained-technicians who are not given a health provider's approval and without physician oversight. In fact, the FDA and American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) warn parents-to-be that these non-medical, non-supervised ultrasounds are unapproved and inappropriate.

Ginnett urges expectant parents to scrutinize the medical credentials of the ultrasonographer conducting your 3D/4D scan. Says Ginnett, "Is the technician an unskilled 'photographer,' or a certified ultrasonographer -- it makes a huge difference." Pacific Coast Ultrasound is overseen by a board certified medical director and supervising radiologists. Ms. Ginnett holds a Diagnostic Medical Sonography certification and is accredited by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS), in the subspecialties of obstetrics/gynecology, and abdomen and small parts.

Should expectant parents be concerned? According to Ginnett, they should absolutely be concerned. Besides concern that unskilled technicians could be performing and interpreting such ultrasounds and that the procedure is not always done under the supervision of a qualified physician, some facilities may be using equipment that is not in good working order.

Roya Rahkshani, MD, a respected obstetrician/gynecologist in Fountain Valley, CA, says that she is concerned if an untrained technician provides the 3D/4D test, a medical condition (mother or baby) or birth defect may go undetected leaving the mother with a false sense of security that her pregnancy is normal and well imaged at these sites.
Moreover, "Not all ultrasounds are created equal," says Nancy Hueppchen, MD, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. "Patients don't know the level of expertise of the person performing the procedure." Hueppchen says there is also the worry about ultrasounds not being conducted in medical settings. "These portrait facilities are not equipped to provide counseling should something go wrong, or proper guidance if a gross abnormality is suspected," she says.

The FDA also notes that some video companies have been known to use the ultrasound machine on higher energy exposures for as long as an hour to get the pictures. The procedure should always be done at the lowest possible energy output and for the least amount of time. Exposure to ultrasound for longer than the time specified by the FDA for fetal monitoring could pose a potential risk to the health of the mother and her developing fetus. Only a true medically compliant practice has the requirements of following these safe guidelines. For Medicare credentialing these practices must have state board certified reading radiologists and a medical director. The medical director is standard to assure the equipment is safe, calibrated for diagnostic accuracy and to require all medical licenses and CEU's are up to date on all the ARDMS, (American Registry Diagnostic Sonographer), technologists staffed to perform the studies.

For more information, please call Pacific Coast Ultrasound at 562-596-3428, 4622 Katella Ave. Suite 101 Los Alamitos, 90720 . http://www.pacificcoastultrasound.com

About Pacific Coast Ultrasound
Pacific Coast Ultrasound, based in Southern California, is a certified Independent Diagnostic Facility that is overseen by a board certified medical director and supervising radiologists. Pacific Coast Ultrasound specializes in prenatal ultrasound offering full diagnostics as well as 3D/4D limited diagnostic/elective ultrasounds. They use the highest 4D imaging technology from GE Medical Systems.
http://www.pacificcoastultrasound.com

About Darlene Ginnett, RDMS
CEO
Pacific Coast Ultrasound

Darlene Ginnett is an accredited ultrasonographer with more than 13 years experience. She honed her considerable expertise at some of Southern California's finest healthcare facilities, including Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA. She earned her Associate of Science degree in Radiology Technology from Cypress College, Cypress CA. Cypress College is distinguished as a premiere educational facility, specializing in Radiology, accredited by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. Ms. Ginnett holds a Diagnostic Medical Sonography certification from Cypress College. She is accredited by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS), in the subspecialties of obstetrics/gynecology, and abdomen and small parts. Ms. Ginnett serves on several national healthcare boards, and is active in many healthcare related causes, including, Lili Clair Foundation at UCLA; Williams Syndrome Association, Precious Life Shelter, and the American Cancer -Relay for Life.

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