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Evaluation of sonographer administered ultrasound-guided musculoskeletal injections

Since 2019, the ASA has funded the research project Evaluation of sonographer administered ultrasound-guided musculoskeletal injections with the International Centre for Allied Health Evidence, University of South Australia, who conducted the research. 

The research evaluated sonographers administering ultrasound-guided musculoskeletal injections on defined outcomes related to patient safety (e.g. expected incidence rates for complications) and patient satisfaction.

The research has now been completed and an article produced in our scientific journal Sonography. View the article: Patient satisfaction and incidence of adverse events during a trial of sonographer administered musculoskeletal injections

The findings from this study indicate that the sonographer administered ultrasound-guided musculoskeletal injection service provided a quality healthcare service model, as viewed from the patient's perspective. Patient satisfaction was high, and the risk of adverse events was no worse than that reported in the literature. 

This study indicates that appropriately trained sonographers can provide ultrasound-guided musculoskeletal injections at a level of safety that is comparable to similar injection procedures explored in the literature. The high level of satisfaction of the patients suggests that this service should be extended and expanded to address patient concerns regarding long waiting times. 

The medications used in cortisone injections are classified as Schedule 4 restricted drugs. Who can prescribe, administer and hold restricted drugs is determined separately by state legislation and subordinate regulation. Each state or territory has its own ‘drugs and poisons’ legislation which is overseen by the jurisdictional Department of Health. As such, the legislation on who can prescribe, administer, and hold restricted drugs, varies between Australian states and territories. 

Even if you are in a state which allows sonographers to administer restricted drugs at the direction of a medical practitioner, it still requires a supervising medical practitioner (e.g. radiologist) to consider this as an appropriate model of healthcare. It also requires the support of the workplace for this service delivery model. 

For more information, read the FAQs on Sonographer administered ultrasound-guided MSK injections

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