Calling on ultrasound-trained medical students to perform point-of-care scans in the emergency department can be a workable way to obtain accurate diagnoses and ensure appropriate patient management, according to a study published online March 3 in the Journal of Emergency Medicine.
The study was conducted at Loma Linda University. Its lead author is Daniel Udrea, a 2018 MD candidate there.
The team looked at 641 point-of-care emergency ultrasound exams carried out by medical students who had completed year one of a four-year curriculum with integrated ultrasound training.
An emergency physician evaluated the scans and then completed a survey to record any changes in diagnosis and management.
The researchers found that “SP-POCUS”—medical student-performed point-of-care ultrasound—resulted in a change in management in 17.3 percent of the cases, and the approach yielded the discovery of a new diagnosis in 12.4 percent of the scans.
Further, SP-POCUS reduced time to disposition 33.5 percent of the time, helped achieve 94.7 percent physician agreement with diagnosis and warded off the ordering of an additional imaging study for 53 percent of the scans performed.
“This study showed that SP-POCUS is feasible and may potentially have a meaningful impact on physician diagnosis and management of patients in the emergency department,” Udrea et al. write. “In addition, the implementation of SP-POCUS could serve as an ideal method of developing ultrasound skills in medical school while positively impacting patient care.”