Who can operate what medical machinery?

I was reading an article about a guy who went in for testing for a scientific study at a small office with one technician. The technician drew blood and then put the author through tests on “a myriad of machines.”

I don’t know what machines he was subject to, but it got me to thinking…you can go to school for x-ray tech, ultrasound, phlebotomy, all sorts of specialties. But can any doctor give an ultrasound or draw blood or even give you stitches or do an angiogram?

It made me think of the show *House *where the doctors are always walking around the hospital in the middle of the night, running all matter of tests (often invasive) on patients with no techs around. I know it’s just a TV show but is that typical?

Also, do people with medical tech degrees such as ultrasound often pursue other degrees such as MRI or x-ray so they can get a job as a single tech that can do many things?

Not any doc can perform an ultrasound or angiogram, but all are qualified to draw blood and give stitches.

One must be an x-ray tech to take an image, but there are exceptions: radiologists, dental techs can take certain x-ray, chiropractors certain x-rays, etc.

The surgeon in the OR waiting on the x-ray tech and he’s in a hurry? No. He/she has to wait.

It differs from place to place, but generally one must first be an x-ray tech to get into one of the modalities such as MRI, CT, radiation therapy, etc. Some require additional schooling such as radiation therapy and nuc med, some require clinical experience and passing a test to get a license, such as MRI and CT. in some states one can go to school for radiation therapy without being an x-ray tech, in others one must be an x-ray tech first but school is half as long. So…it depends.

Can’t speak for MDs but as I dentist I can take any dental radiograph I wish.

I don’t think you even need be a dentist. At my dentist’s office the dental assistants (who do the actual teeth cleaning) take the X-rays

^ Dental assistants can take dental x-rays (at least in my state), but they can’t clean teeth. Only dental hygienists and dentists can do that.

So, a dentist and dental assistants obviously have x-ray in their training and qualifications, but a surgeon or a general practitioner would not?

A surgeon might pick up some bits here and there, but would not be running the fluoro machine or shooting x-rays or running the CT scanner or MRI. They may pick up the basics of running an ultrasound, but narrowly focused on the sort of things that they do regularly, like breast biopsies, or prostate ultrasound for the urologists or obstetric stuff for the OB/GYNs. They wouldn’t be doing echocardiograms or the like, and if the settings on the machine got all messed up they probably wouldn’t be able to fix them or troubleshoot the machine.

I don’t know what title they go under here in CT. YOu’re probably right they’re called hygienists. But whatever the title, the person who cleans my teeth takes the X-rays.

Dental workers have very little x-ray training and they’re dealing with a very low dose of radiation. Their machines are fixed and can be learned to be used in minutes. A student radiographer will practice for hours and hours in taking the necessary images for, say, c-spine images alone. Then there are all of the other body parts and special procedures. It’s not uncommon at all for some students to do well academically and never get through training because of an inability to master the hands-on portion and vice versa.

I’m a Family Medicine doc, basically an old fashioned GP with two extra years of training beyond the internship year. I can run portable ultrasounds and have done so to check out fetal position during labor, or estimate bladder sizes when they’re distended. I can run a sigmoidoscope just fine, even though I just use an anoscope far more often these days. I can even operate a head mirror, using a ring light. I was trained to do my own gram stains, pull my own blood smears, spin my own crits, and check bleeding times by using clot tubes. I can even use a slit lamp to check out a corneal surface and check eye pressures.

But I don’t take x-rays, don’t operate ventilators , avoid doing angiograms or angioplasties like the plague, and leave the technical work to the folks trained to do it. And more and more, medicine is utilizing high tech which require specialists to operate the machinery. Good on 'em! We need a highly trained technical workforce for that, and let me think about what the test results really mean. I don’t have to be the one doing them. It made sense for a physician to have that technical knowhow when it was straightforward, slow to change or upgrade, and a standard part of practice.

A lot of these aren’t terribly hard to run, but you use a trained technician because you want a clear image, and you can only do so much post-measurement to clean up the image (garbage in, garbage out). Additionally, when it comes to interpretation, radiologists or specially trained technicians will do the analysis and interpretation of the images - is this area of dense tissue a concern or not? Often the person doing the measurement and the person interpreting are different, not because there is necessarily some disconnect, but because it is more efficient and beneficial to specialize.

My mother could also do general surgery. But I don’t remember ever seeing a slit lamp. I don’t know what she would have done: I suspect she would have treated symptomatically? What does the slit lamp tell you that you should know?

IME. Medical staff are limited to performing tests and operating equipment that they’ve been trained and certified on. Doctors and surgeons train to read and interpret x-rays. Techs train to make x-rays. Both will receive training to know what safe levels of radiation are so the doctor won’t ask for something that’s potentially harmful to the patient.

I’m licensed for general surgery too, but have pretty much restricted myself to lump and bump surgery, skin biopsies, incising and draining abscesses and thromboses, repairing lacerations, and the occasional brain transplant.

Slit lamps can do a LOT, give good views of the retina, the iris, the anterior and posterior chamber. But in my hands it is reduced to a really, really good magnifying glass to see the cornea and look for foreign bodies. Though usually I can do that just fine with a magnifying glass and some fluorescein. It’s a fancier tool than I need. And one generally only found in hospitals or eye doctor clinics.