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Applying ultrasound in nursing assessments

I heard there was a change in law related to nurses applying ultrasound. What is this change and what are the implications?

For years, CNO communicated that RNs and RPNs could apply ultrasound when performing a nursing assessment. This is how we interpreted the term “diagnostic ultrasound,” which is used in law.

During a recent conversation with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, we learned that our interpretation of “diagnostic ultrasound” was incorrect. In fact, any ultrasound that produces data or an image, regardless of whether it is used for diagnosis, is “diagnostic ultrasound”.

Since then, we have been working with government to amend the law so current appropriate use of ultrasound can continue. The change ensures that client care is not impacted.

The law now states that all nurses in a therapeutic nurse-client relationship can apply ultrasound to conduct routine nursing assessments to help develop or implement the client plan of care.

In the course of applying ultrasound, nurses are accountable to expectations in the practice standards including Decisions About Procedures and Authority. This requires nurses to:

  • have sufficient knowledge, skill and judgment to determine the appropriateness of performing the procedure
  • seek consultation when the limits of knowledge, skill and judgment have been reached
  • determine whether the management of the possible outcomes is within her/his knowledge, skill, judgment and authority
Page last reviewed June 07, 2022