Provoked by Tom Cruise, California likely to ban private ultrasound use

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Few would probably have guessed that the bad press that Tom Cruise has inflicted upon himself would come to impact the health imaging world. But, alas, it has. According to an AP report, the California Assembly last week approved a measure that restricts ultrasound system usage by non-licensed individuals for personal use. Democratic Assemblyman Ted Lieu introduced the bill which now will move on to the California State Senate.
           
What does this have to do with Tom Cruise, you ask? Well, he recently publicly announced he would purchase an ultrasound machine to view images of his then unborn daughter Suri (born in April) with his fiancée, Katie Holmes.
           
After this pronouncement, physicians came down on Cruise for using the device without proper training. Ultrasound systems have the potential to harm a fetus if improperly or over used, they said.
           
The intention of the bill is to stop others with the wherewithal to buy their own ultrasounds for home use.

"What we don't want is someone who unintentionally damages the fetus," Lieu said yesterday on the Assembly floor, according to the AP.
           
The bill prohibits the sale or leasing of such systems to non-licensed persons, but will not block private companies that have a particular license from providing ultrasound images to parents who want to have them as keepsakes, the AP reports. The FDA, however, has not approved medical devices for use in providing keepsake fetal videos and carry-around snapshots.

The ACR (American College of Radiology) has come out in support of the measure, but now as the bill moves to the California Senate the organization is pushing for the legislature to also include the prohibition of sale to fetal keepsake studios.
               
“This bill is an important first step in protecting parents, perhaps unaware of potentially harmful effects of misuse of ultrasound technology, from placing their unborn children at risk,” said James P. Borgstede, MD, FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology Board of Chancellors. “However, the legislation should include a ban on the sale of ultrasound equipment to fetal keepsake studios, as they most often lack onsite physician supervision, the tests are almost always not the result of a physician prescription, and may cause parents to mistakenly believe that they do not need appropriate medical attention.”