Point-of-Care Ultrasound Elevates the Care of Our Military Members
Annually, Veterans Day is a significant day of coming together as a country to recognize the selfless and heroic actions of all who have fought and served for our peace and freedom.
The reason we celebrate on November 11 dates back to the end of World War I. While the First World War officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, the fighting had concluded months prior because of an armistice. As a result, November 11, 1918, is considered the original end of “the war to end all wars.” During the following year, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, which was recognized by the United States Congress in a concurrent resolution passed in 1926 and legally declared a holiday a little over a decade later.
It was not until 1954 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued a proclamation that this annual celebration became known as Veterans Day. Since then, every year on November 11, we recognize our veterans for their commitment to our country, thank them for the sacrifices they make, and honor all they do to continue to protect us.
In 2021, according to data released by the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are approximately 19 million US veterans. Along with celebrating this community once a year, we should strive to carry the spirit of Veterans Day with us all year-round in how we show our support and appreciation for all they do. We must continue to develop new ways to provide support to our veterans and their families.
Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) is one example of how innovation can create a drastic impact in the lives of our servicemen and servicewomen.
During recent years, healthcare professionals and patients have seen how the use of POCUS elevates the standard of care. This modality allows medical workers access to instrumental information that supports their diagnostic process. While it is becoming increasingly common for healthcare professionals to incorporate POCUS into their medical toolboxes, this modality is far from new to the military.
The role of POCUS in reshaping how we provide care is intertwined in the history of our military, with POCUS being a valuable tool to military medics. Emergency ultrasound (EUS) has been a mandatory part of all military emergency medicine (EM) physicians’ training since Desert Storm in 1991. Since being incorporated into the training, the value POCUS brings to the evaluation and care of patients conducted by EM physicians has become increasingly prominent.
One blog about the use of POCUS outside of the hospital highlights how in the military, it can improve “a prognosis for a patient” and ensure that resources are “efficiently used.” As this blog notes, our veterans are often in situations that require them to move quickly and frequently. In these situations, POCUS provides field medics with a faster, more efficient way to streamline care. As they protect us, POCUS helps improve the patient outcomes for our military members.
“I truly believe the value of POCUS is inversely related to the resources available within a practice setting, which makes it a truly invaluable tool in the austere military environment,” said Dr. Jon Monti, a retired US Army Major who worked 17 Years as a physician assistant.
The use of this modality in medical centers worldwide would not look the same if it were not for how it was intentionally crafted to support the needs of our armed forces. The SonoSite™ corporation was formed in 1997, specifically to design a portable ultrasound machine for combat situations. In 1999, they launched SonoSite 180™, the first battery-powered, lightweight, and portable ultrasound device.
From the time it was first integrated into military operations, the portable nature of POCUS has enabled military members to provide and receive care on the battlefield and in the hospital.
According to US Army Critical Care Physician Dr. Cristin Mount, there are various applications of POCUS in military medicine. These range from “daily use in the Emergency Department and ICU for quick clinical decision making, to aiding clinical decision making and patient movement decisions in more austere environments.”
The benefits POCUS brings to our veterans will only increase as the knowledge, awareness, and technology of this tool continues to grow.
Let us always remember that just like the freedom we experience, the benefits we reap from this innovation result from the commitment and passion of our military members. As they continue to make sacrifices to ensure our protection, join us in our efforts to continue to learn and grow as a community and as a country to ensure we can support our veterans.
The Point-of-Care Ultrasound Certification Academy™ offers our sincerest gratitude to our military members and remains committed to furthering the POCUS mission by ensuring that the highest standards of ultrasound care and knowledge are accessible to all.
Happy Veterans Day!