Ultrasound, emergency physicians publish guidelines for emergency ultrasound exams

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The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) have jointly announced that they will publish the Guideline for the Performance of the Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma (FAST) Examination.

The FAST examination is a procedure to evaluate the injured patient immediately during resuscitation to detect large abnormal fluid collections or other collections that need immediate treatment, AIUM  and ACEP said. Prior to its use, more invasive procedures, including surgery, were required to evaluate trauma patients.

With the growing use of the FAST examination to evaluate trauma patients in hospital emergency rooms, pre-hospital situations, military locations and disaster areas, the AIUM and ACEP joined forces to create guidelines to provide assistance to emergency medical practitioners and to promote high-quality ultrasound examinations, the associations said.

The guideline, created from the input of both traditional and emergency physician ultrasound experts, includes indications for performing the exam, qualifications and responsibilities of the performing physician, specifications for exams, documentation requirements, equipment specifications, quality control and safety standards, AIUM and ACEP said.

The associations said that the FAST examination is now taught to more than 95 percent of emergency medicine residents and included in Advanced Trauma Life Support, a training program for doctors in the management of acute trauma cases.

ACEP is a Dallas-based national medical specialty society for emergency medicine with more than 26,000 members. The AIUM is a Laurel, Md.-based multidisciplinary association to advance the safe and effective use of ultrasound in medicine through professional and public education, research, development of guidelines and accreditation.