POCUS aids palliative care in poorer rural regions

In resource-strapped parts of the world, point-of-care ultrasound can help palliative care clinicians provide better care for patients with life-limiting conditions and, in turn, offer more confident guidance to these patients’ families, according to a study published online Nov. 15 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Study author Karol Villalobos of the Costa Rican Department of Social Security (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social) looked at limited-diagnosis POCUS exams performed in two rural hospitals as well as in several rural outpatient sites in that Central American country.

Villalobos reports that the technology helped patients and their families in both settings by accelerating the path two palliative specialists took to reach an accurate diagnosis.

Among the resulting beneficial results were limiting unnecessary transport to the hospital and improving patient safety.

Villalobos notes that POCUS can be made accessible for use in such unconventional, resource-limited settings as patients’ homes.

“Point of care ultrasound usage by palliative medicine specialists is an innovation-breaking paradigm that has shown in our case to be a successful help as an evaluation strategy in a limited-resources rural environment with a frail population,” she concludes.