Point of Care Ultrasound

Point of Care Ultrasound

Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) is the application of ultrasound at the point of care to make immediate patient-care decisions, often to evaluate an emergency medical condition. POCUS is rapidly replacing the stethoscope at the bedside, providing immediate diagnoses often with greater sensitivity and specificity than chest x-rays and CT.

POCUS is an acronym which stands for Point of Care Ultrasound, a term that can be described as “a diagnostic or procedural guidance ultrasound that is performed by a clinician during a patient encounter to help guide the evaluation and management of the patient."

Not only can POCUS complement the history and physical exam -- providing more detail to inform our clinical decisions -- it also is an effective tool that can reduce costs of advanced imaging, improve patient care and patient safety, and increase face-to-face interactions between doctor and patient, thus increasing patient satisfaction. That list sounds a lot like something that meets the quadruple aim of providing higher-quality care and lower costs while improving patient and physician satisfaction.

POSITIVES:

• In many cases exceeds the standards of our physical exam

• Can be performed in several minutes, comparable to traditional

physical exam

• Involves personal contact between physician and patient at the

bedside.

• Immediate, repeatable

• Without any appreciated harms such as ionizing radiation

• After initial equipment purchase and training time, virtually free.

NEGATIVES:

• Operator –dependent

• High start up costs

• Many limitations of technology compared to CT/ MRI

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