What is Bedside Ultrasound?
Bedside ultrasound is ultrasound performed by the clinician at the bedside to enhance your physical exam and provide direct visual guidance of medical procedures. Bedside ultrasound answers specific questions generated by history and physical exam using a focused ultrasound scan performed by a clinician. It’s also know as point of care (POCUS) and physician/clinician performed ultrasound.
In case your attention span is anything like mine I’ve included a shorter and a wordier explanation of why you should learn bedside ultrasound.
The Argument for Ultrasound (in Less Words)
If you’re attention span is anything like mine, read this version.
As a Med Student you should learn bedside ultrasound because:
You care about your patients!
- Ultrasound is faster, can be performed at the bedside, cost less than other imaging, and has no radiation.
- Ultrasound improves patient safety and the quality of patient care.
- You want to be an amazing physician someday soon and want to apply ultrasound in your clinical practice.
- Ultrasound improves patient satisfaction (they feel like you care and that you’re actually doing something for them).
You want to be awesome at med school!
- Better test scores in anatomy and other pre-clinical courses (seriously!)
- Get immediate feedback on your physical exam (so your physical exam skills are actually accurate and you will be a rock star medical student)
- Look super smart on your clinical rotations and actually improve your patients’ care!
As a Physician you should learn bedside ultrasound because:
Ultrasound improves patient care!
- It is performed in real-time. There’s no delay between the clinical picture and imaging.
- It’s cost effective, fast, and reduces radiation exposure.
- It’s a superior test in many cases (for pneumothorax is US almost 100% sensitive).
- It allows you to answer focused questions with ultrasound imaging (a bit like extending your physical exam in images), so you’re working with more information.
- Patient satisfaction increases with bedside ultrasound use (because you’re actually at the bedside touching the patient).
- We’re talking serious evidence based medicine… there’s so muchliterature to support bedside ultrasound it will make your head spin!
Ultrasound will make you a better teacher of medicine!
- It’s great tool for teaching pathophysiology and connecting the clinical picture to pathology.
- Teach your med students and residents how to get immediate feedback on their physical exam findings using ultrasound.
- Reinforce anatomy and physiology at the bedside.
- Exposure to ultrasound education in medical school is increasing every day. Your medical students will know this. Learn ultrasound now, so they don’t leave you behind (or show you up on rounds)!
The Argument for Ultrasound (in More Words)
If you want to hear more about ultrasound, keep reading!
Why Should I Care as a Med Student?
Bottom line, point of care ultrasound improves patient care and your medical education. It’s inexpensive, fast, portable, improves patient care and safety, and provides real time information during physical exams and procedures. Because of this, ultrasound is being used in medical schools to enhance medical student education. Ultrasound education in medical school ranges from a four year integrated curriculum to none at all. Teaching ultrasound in physical exam courses improves medical students’ physical exam skills set. This not only provides student with ultrasound skills to apply to patient care, but also provides them with real time feedback on their physical exam. Ultrasound also improves anatomy and physiology education. In one study, students who received ultrasound education sessions in addition to their tradition anatomy curriculum scored 9% higher on their exams than their control (dissection without ultrasound) counterparts. Seriously… you’d be nuts not to learn ultrasound!!
Why Should I Care as a Physician?
Ultrasound makes you a better physician, period. It’s inexpensive, fast, portable, improves patient care and safety, and provides real time information during physical exams and procedures. It’s easy to learn and quick to perform. It makes procedures easier by allowing direct visualization of the real-time. This improves procedure success rates, decreases procedure length, and significantly reduces complications. Ultrasound adds valuable information to patient care in real-time without the delay and cost associated with other imaging. The applications are limitless. It can be used to assess the heart, lungs, abdominal organs, pelvis, soft tissue, muscles bones, ligaments, blood vessels, and… you get the idea. It also allows physicians to more wisely use limited healthcare resources, as it low cost. And if that’s not enough, it’s just good science! There are literally thousands of studies on bedside ultrasound improving patient care and being easy to learn. In many cases physician performed ultrasound are equal to or superior to other imaging modalities. The evidence is clear. Bedside ultrasound is just good medicine!
Another important consideration is the fact that two thirds of the world has no access to diagnostic medical imaging. Ultrasound is an ideal tool to drastically improve patient care in resource limited healthcare setting. It’s portable, inexpensive (think Vscan), and can be performed by physicians with a small amount training. Bringing ultrasound training to physicians in developing parts is a high impact act that drastically improves the quality of medical care for people that need it most! Yet another reason physicians, especially those involved with global health, should learn ultrasound.