Evaluation of Focused Obstetric Ultrasound Examinations by Health Care Personnel in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Kenya, Pakistan, and Zambia
Prior studies have suggested that obstetrical (OB) ultrasound in low- and middle-income countries has aided in detection of high-risk conditions, which in turn could improve OB management. We are participating in a cluster-randomized clinical trial of OB ultrasound, which is designed to assess the effect of basic OB ultrasound on maternal mortality, fetal mortality, neonatal mortality, and maternal near-miss in 5 low-income countries. We designed a 2-week course in basic OB ultrasound, followed by 12 weeks of oversight, to train health care professionals with no prior ultrasound experience to perform basic OB ultrasound to screen for high-risk pregnancies. All patients with high-risk pregnancies identified by the trainees were referred to higher-level health facilities where fully trained sonographers confirmed the diagnoses before any actions were taken. Although there have been several published studies on basic OB ultrasound training courses for health care workers in low- and middle-income countries, quality control reporting has been limited. The purpose of this study is to report on quality control results of these trainees. Health care workers trained in similar courses could have an adjunctive role in ultrasound screening for high-risk OB conditions where access to care is limited. After completion of the ultrasound course, 41 trainees in 5 countries performed 3801 ultrasound examinations during a 12-week pilot period. Each examination was reviewed by ultrasound trainers for errors in scanning parameters and errors in diagnosis, using predetermined criteria. Of the 32,480 images comprising the 3801 examinations, 94.8% were rated as satisfactory by the reviewers. There was 99.4% concordance between trainee and reviewer ultrasound diagnosis. The results suggest that trained health care workers could play a role in ultrasound screening for high-risk OB conditions.