Part 1: Why are physicians beginning to use ultrasound increasingly at the bedside?

by James Mateer MD RDMS

The initial interest in point of care ultrasound (POC US) exams has been driven by the rapid advancements in ultrasound technology over the past 15-20 years.  These advancements have largely paralleled the development of advances in computer technology.

The 80’s advanced portable real-time imaging options.

The 90’s brought improvements in image quality and more compact portable console units.

This is an example of a hand-carried ultrasound unit. (provided by GE)
This is an example of a hand-carried ultrasound unit.
(provided by GE)

After 2000, a number of compact, hand-carried units were introduced.

Today, the improved image quality, price point and portability for both compact console and hand- carried units have focused the attention of clinicians on utilization of bedside ultrasound.

During this period of technological advancement, physicians have published numerous studies demonstrating conclusively that POC- US improves diagnostic efficiency and patient outcome.

This has led many specialties to incorporate POC US training into their residency or fellowship programs.   We now have a growing number of clinicians who realize the value of the POC US exam for improved diagnosis and treatment.

Currently, several medical schools have initiated POC US training for medical students as they progress through their clinical rotations. These physicians of the future will determine how extensively POC US is utilized for physical diagnosis, disease screening and therapeutic intervention.

As ultrasound advances, there will be continued improvements in portability, image resolution, ease of use and digital interface with the electronic medical record systems.

All of these past and continued technological developments will be a driving force for further utilization of point of care ultrasonography.

Coming up…

Part 2: How a renewed emphasis on the cost effective practice of medicine and patient safety issues will influence the future of POC US.

Learn more from Dr. Mateer at Introduction and Advanced Emergency Medicine and Critical Care Ultrasound Training Courses at Gulfcoast Ultrasound Institute.

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