Australian sonographers’ perceptions of patient safety in ultrasound imaging: Part two – translation into practice

John McInerney, Paul Lombardo, Cynthia Cowling, Simone Roberts, Jenny Sim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Introduction: A lack of patient safety research hampers capacity to improve safety in healthcare. Ultrasound is often considered ‘safe’ as it does not use ionising radiation, a simplistic view of patient safety. Understanding sonographers’ actions towards patient safety is crucial; however, self-reported measures cannot always predict behaviour. This study is part of a PhD exploring patient safety in medical diagnostic ultrasound. The aim of this paper is to explore sonographers’ responses to the patient safety concerns identified in Part one of this study. The ultimate aim of the study is to inform the final phase of the doctoral study which will consider the next steps in improving the quality and safety of healthcare experienced by patients. Methods: A qualitative study using semi-structured, one-on-one interviews. The Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) explained how sonographers respond to perceived patient safety risks in practice. Results: Thirty-one sonographers were interviewed. Based on the seven themes identified in Part one of the study, results showed that incongruences exist between identifying patient safety risks and the actions taken in practice to manage these risks. Conclusion: The TPB showed that behavioural, normative and control beliefs impact sonographers’ responses to perceived patient safety risks in practice and can lead to risk avoidance. Lack of regulation in ultrasound creates a challenge in dealing with Fitness to Practice issues. Collective actions are required to support sonographers in taking appropriate actions to enhance patient safety from multiple stakeholders including accreditation bodies, regulatory authorities, educational institutions and employers.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • adverse effects
  • miscellaneous
  • physics and engineering
  • professional issues
  • safety
  • Sonography
  • ultrasound

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