What is Point-of-Care Ultrasonography?
Point-of-care ultrasound refers to the use of portable ultrasonography at a patient’s bedside for diagnostic (e.g., symptom- or sign-based examination) or therapeutic (e.g., image-guidance) purposes. Kendall et al. defined the characteristics of point-of-care ultrasound (Table 1).1
|Table 1: Characteristics of Point-of-Care Ultrasound|
Exam is for a well-defined purpose linked to improving patient outcomes
Exam is focused & goal-directed
Exam is easily learned & findings are easily recognizable
Exam is performed quickly at the patient’s bedside
Point-of-care ultrasonography improves healthcare. While traditional methods of performing a physical examination are of critical importance, healthcare practitioners that become skilled in the use of point-of-care ultrasonography become uniquely empowered to better care for patients. Point-of-care ultrasound has been proven to improve patient outcomes and experiences including, but not limited to:
- Providing faster diagnosis of time-sensitive critical conditions (e.g., leaking AAA, ruptured ectopic pregnancy)2,3
- Minimizing delays in care (e.g., time to IV antibiotic administration due to lack of IV access)4,5
- Diminishing procedural complications (e.g., iatrogenic pneumothorax following CVL placement or thoracentesis)6,7
Point-of-care ultrasonography has the potential to save billions of dollars on an annual basis across health systems. It is has the capacity to increase patient throughput via more accurate and timely clinical diagnoses, improve procedural efficacy, decrease complications, and limit pain and suffering. Advances in ultrasound technology, including improved ease-of-use, superior image quality, and lower cost ultrasound units, have fueled the emergence of point-of-care ultrasonography.
The need and demand for ultrasonography training has grown in parallel to the expanded use of ultrasound technology. However, the primary barrier to future universal adoption of this operator-dependent “stethoscope of the future” is the lack of widespread, efficient, and affordable training solutions.8,9
Higher fidelity, lower cost, and smaller (handheld) ultrasound units coupled with innovative ultrasound training solutions (e.g., SonoSim Ultrasound Training Solution) have created a unique opportunity to further accelerate the spread of point-of-care ultrasound. Healthcare providers, facilities, and health systems that strategically incorporate point-of-care ultrasound into clinical practice will rapidly distinguish themselves from those who refrain from incorporating this highly valuable modality.
Our Articles About Point-of-Care Ultrasonography
1 Kendall JL, Hoffenberg SR, Smith RS. History of emergency and critical care ultrasound: the evolution of a new imaging paradigm. Crit Care Med. 2007 May;35(5 Suppl):S126-S130.
2 Plummer D, Clinton J, Matthew B. Emergency department ultrasound improves time to diagnosis and survival in ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. [Abstract]. Acad Emerg Med. 1998. 5(5):417.
3 Rodgerson JD, Heegaard WG, Plummer D, et al. Emergency department right upper quadrant ultrasound is associated with a reduced time to diagnosis and treatment of ruptured ectopic pregnancies. Acad Emerg Med. 2001 Apr;8(4):331-336.
4 Bahl A, Pandurangadu AV, Tucker J, Bagan M. A randomized controlled trial assessing the use of ultrasound for nurse-performed IV placement in difficult access ED patients. Am J Emerg Med. 2016;34(10):1950-1954.
5 Bauman M, Braude D, Crandall C. Ultrasound-guidance vs. standard technique in difficult vascular access patients by ED technicians. Am J Emerg Med 2009 Feb;27(2):135-140.
6 Stone MB, Nagdev A, Murphy MC, et al. Ultrasound detection of guidewire position during central venous catheterization. Am J Emerg Med 2010 Jan;28(1):82-84.
7 Barnes TW, Morgenthaler TI, Olson EJ, et al. Sonographically guided thoracentesis and rate of pneumothorax. J Clin Ultrasound. 2005 Dec;33(9):442-446.
8 Moore CL, Gregg S, Lambert M. Performance, training, quality assurance, and reimbursement of emergency physician-
performed ultrasonography at academic medical centers. J Ultrasound Med. 2004 Apr;23(4):459-466.
9 Frost & Sullivan. U.S. Ultrasound Markets Strategic Report. 2004 Jan [cited 2011 Apr 4]. Available from: http://www.frost.com/prod/servlet/report-brochure.pag?id=A675-01-00-00-00#report-overview