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PoCUS: Expanding Access to Emergency Ultrasound


Point-of-care ultrasound (PoCUS) is among the most pivotal and universally appreciated technologies in emergency medical care. When precision matters, and every second counts, PoCUS provides the life-saving diagnostic data clinicians need. The utility of PoCUS continues to contribute to the technology’s rapid evolution. Today’s PoCUS devices are more affordable, integrated, and portable enough to go virtually anywhere.

As portable ultrasound technology enjoys a golden age of innovation, these devices are an increasingly ubiquitous tool for first-line diagnosis and treatment. From emergency rooms to field use by first responders, PoCUS is empowering an informed approach to treatment when it matters most. When time is of the essence, PoCUS brings critical clarity to medical decision-making.

A growing reliance on emergency ultrasound

In the 1990s, dramatic improvements in ultrasound technology transformed it into an efficient and reliable method for assessing emergent conditions in real time.

Research published in 2012 cites falling costs, breakthrough technologies, and a growing appreciation for ultrasound’s diagnostic capability as the reasons for its rise in emergency medical care. Research from a decade ago concludes what today’s emergency medical professionals prove every day; “Emergency screening ultrasound is now a nationally accepted tool for the rapid assessment of the emergency patient.”

Today, emergency ultrasound is one of the best ways to identify and contextualize a wide array of emergent conditions requiring swift treatment decisions, including:

  • Abdominal pain and hypotension
  • Deep venous thrombosis (DVT)
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Pericardial tamponade
  • Renal colic

PoCUS extends the scope of emergency ultrasound applications from portability across triage rooms to on-site diagnosis by first responders in the field. Across the country, PoCUS is now recognized as invaluable to emergency care — with the potential to save lives.

PoCUS as emerging medical technology

As emerging medtech shrinks the footprint of PoCUS devices, they’re increasingly available for a wide variety of first-line applications, and the simplicity of modern PoCUS devices makes it easy to train a wide range of medical professionals. PoCUS expands the reach of ultrasound with applications for:

  • Emergency/triage. The mobility of PoCUS devices makes it possible to introduce ultrasound to virtually any critical care situation. PoCUS is quicker than other imaging approaches and a noninvasive method for gathering essential data to inform timely decision-making. Portable ultrasound is also ideal for evaluating incapacitated patients too sick to transport.
  • First responders. Tasked with assessing the severity of an emergency, police, fire, and rescue professionals have an opportunity to deploy PoCUS to a high degree of efficacy in the field. The ability to understand injuries and illnesses not only informs better triage, but it also allows first responders to send patients to the appropriate facility with data that will expedite critical care upon arrival.
  • Paramedics. According to one study about pre-hospital injury and illness assessment, PoCUS has tremendous potential to help paramedics assess cardiac events; “Our pilot study suggests that with minimal training, paramedics can use [ultrasound] to obtain cardiac images that are adequate for interpretation and diagnose cardiac standstill.”
  • Disaster relief. In the event of mass casualty and injury, PoCUS expedites triage and improves on-site relief efforts in real time. Emergency ultrasound allows disaster relief teams to maximize time and resources and minimize casualties and complications.

PoCUS is an increasingly essential tool in rural healthcare settings. Small healthcare facilities no longer need to send patients to distant facilities for diagnostic imaging, and portable ultrasound brings critical insight to injury and illness no matter the care conditions. This improves diagnostic capabilities among rural populations, and keeps the cost of care lower for patients.

The benefits of PoCUS

Demand for portable ultrasound technology is growing, and it’s primarily driven by the quantifiable benefits PoCUS brings to emergency diagnostics. When time is of the essence, and circumstances are less than ideal, precision matters. PoCUS delivers life-saving insight for quick, confident diagnoses.

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September 29, 2022 Uncategorized