Imaging modalities and their applications have gone where they’ve never been before. Healthcare providers now bring this sophisticated imaging device to the patient, rather than vice versa. Radiologists and other diagnostically trained clinicians highly value the image quality, speed, and ease of use.
Standards are developed with a collective group of like-minded experts in a particular field. Together, the group provides a consensus as to what is vital and required to achieve precise goals or objectives for their discipline. These requirements and specifics deemed as critical to one’s work are the resulting standards to implement within a given field.
So, where has imaging ventured? Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) — a safe, effective imaging modality with a rapidly expanding array of life, time, and cost-saving applications. These benefits afforded by POCUS are dynamically reshaping the world of medicine.
1. POCUS provides a precise, cost-effective, and noninvasive diagnosis that carries no risk of ionizing radiation. The application of POCUS determines the health state of both emergency and stable patients.
2. For the physician and other health professionals, mastering POCUS techniques can be straightforward, requiring a short period to gain proficiency.
3. POCUS provides a streamlined focus. It can be administered within a few minutes, allowing for quick and specific answers. Healthcare professionals may perform POCUS to augment physical examination, restoration, and maintenance.
4. POCUS is a complementary tool and can help improve radiology usage. Clinical decisions are not based solely on the result of bedside ultrasound as patients are treated based on a constellation of findings, not a single lab value.
5. POCUS works well as a complement to physical assessment. Curated data may be used immediately to reach a quick and reliable diagnosis that will guide the next steps in the patient’s care plan.
6. POCUS is ideal for evaluating incapacitated patients too sick to transport, as such, decreasing the need for patients to be transported to a hospital or imaging center. This reduces the risk of additional healthcare staff exposure and increases the availability of hospital resources necessary to care for the illest patients.
7. Point-of-care ultrasound allows personal contact between the doctor and the patient. In this way, unstable and hopeless patients may calm as a result of direct interaction with the physician.
8. POCUS is more portable and less expensive than other traditional imaging techniques. Many hospitals and clinics are supplementing bulky stationary modalities with this portable device to improve their standard of care, reduce costs of in-hospital patient transportation, process time, and storage associated with conventional film systems.
9. Various developments are taking place regarding cost-effective ultrasound systems with different transducer designs, reception circuitry requirements, transmission, and beamforming algorithms. These changes aim to decrease the price and increase the use of POCUS devices.
10. The latest designed portable ultrasound machines are very effective during disaster management. They allow healthcare professionals to obtain a precise idea about field triage and patient care conditions. Modern devices are also helpful in pre-hospital settings.
11. Images are transmitted using wireless and satellite transmission. Transmitted ultrasound images can be interpreted with the help of telemedicine and do not require the aid of a radiologist.
12. POCUS is essential in many acute resuscitation processes, including hypothermia, hypovolemia, haemoperitoneum, pneumothorax, cardiac tamponade, and pulmonary embolism.
While conventional methods of physical examination and other diagnostic procedures and tools are of critical importance, healthcare professionals who use POCUS in their clinical practices have become more accurate and empowered. Handheld and smaller ultrasound devices with increased fidelity have provided an excellent opportunity for health practitioners. Healthcare professionals, institutes, and health systems that tactically integrate point-of-care ultrasound into clinical training will quickly extricate themselves from those who avoid the use of modern modalities.
Overall, POCUS can play an essential role in providing additional clues during physical exams to make a diagnosis in today’s healthcare setting. As healthcare providers become more proficient with handheld technology, they will become more confident with the diagnosis in real-time.
Knowing that there has been a significant increase in the uptake of point-of-care ultrasound usage, POCUS25 is a means to help promote core POCUS practice domains to all healthcare providers worldwide. Based on community recommendations, POCUS25 is designed to become a comprehensive resource identifying the top 25 ultrasound procedures or protocols. The aim is to ensure with every use of this modality, the benefits are realized throughout medicine.
With the benefits of POCUS and the knowledge gained from POCUS25, healthcare professionals are well armed with the tools to provide meaningful healthcare to their communities.
Do you have POCUS expertise? Have you mastered this imaging modality and are reaping its benefits? The POCUS Certification AcademyTM would love to hear from you. Visit our POCUS25 page to learn more.
- Sorensen, B., & Hunskaar, S. (2019). Point-of-care ultrasound in primary care: a systematic review of generalist performed point-of-care ultrasound in unselected populations. The Ultrasound Journal, 11(1). doi: 10.1186/s13089-019-0145-4