What is the promise of point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS)?
“The first is that a clinician can have a much better idea of the diagnosis of the patient in front of him by adding to their standard 19th-century physical examination an ultrasound evaluation.”
Dr. James A. DellaValle provides an incredible response to this first question posed to him on a November episode of the Focus on POCUS podcast.
He gives a great example of a woman who had a history of metastatic cancer visiting his hospital due to shortness of breath. She was under distress being she had already undergone multiple treatments. Within three to four minutes of arriving in the emergency room, Dr. DellaValle had made a diagnosis. Due to POCUS, he was able to detect a malignant pericardial effusion, something he would not have been able to diagnosis via a chest x-ray or physical examination alone.
“To me, this was very powerful,” describes Dr. DellValle.
Another promise of POCUS is the ability to have this technology present and available in a clinician’s pocket. What once resided in large facilities and specific hospital rooms, now can always remain with the physicians.
Dr. DellValle believes that this incredible phenomenon brings him and his peers another guarantee. “So, the promise also becomes being a much better physician.”
He suggests that the images provided via POCUS change the way clinicians think. What is taught and seen as a static anatomy, comes to life and can be viewed as very dynamic. It becomes another way of perceiving and looking at the human body.
The promise is not for healthcare professionals alone. The impact and benefits trickle and affect the patients most. Dr. DellValle sheds light on how POCUS is helping to improve healthcare for patients in third world countries.
Access to medical care is limited or difficult to obtain in countries where resources are scarce. People may have to travel several miles by bus to healthcare facilities to receive the attention they need. This travel time can be upwards to 10 – 11 hours.
“The third world immensely benefits from this technology, because it adds to the definitive diagnosis being made at hopefully where the people are living instead of having to send them someplace else,” shares Dr. DellValle.
In a location like Cité Solei, the bedside evaluation that POCUS offers patients is a time saver. More lives are saved by getting care to those who may not otherwise receive it and reducing how long it takes to provide help to those with life-threatening conditions.
“Time is not only saved but also an incredible amount of money. It [POCUS] eliminates the extra costs generated by having to go elsewhere for imaging,” adds Dr. DellValle.
He shares another example that supports the cost savings POCUS renders. With Dr. DellValle’s POCUS probe in hand, he confirmed a pregnancy that originally presented a mom to be with inconsistent validation results. His diagnosis meant not having to order a $100 serum pregnancy test.
The savings POCUS creates are immeasurable. However, to truly understand its impact means recognizing that there are countless benefits to be gained. The future of POCUS does indeed look bright.
Listen to the full podcast episode to hear Dr. DellValle explain just how brilliant he believes POCUS will make all our tomorrows.
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