Bedside ultrasound in pediatric emergency medicine fellowship programs in the United States: little formal training

Daniela Ramirez-Schrempp, David H Dorfman, Irene Tien, Andrew S Liteplo
Pediatric Emergency Care 2008, 24 (10): 664-7

BACKGROUND: Bedside ultrasound (BUS) can provide critical information in a rapid and noninvasive manner to the emergency physician. It is widely used in emergency departments (ED) throughout the nation. Literature shows that BUS shortens patient stay and increases patient satisfaction. General emergency medicine (EM) residencies incorporate BUS training in their curricula. However, there are limited data about the training that pediatric emergency medicine (PEM) fellows receive.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the extent of training and use of BUS in PEM fellowship programs.

METHODS: A 29-question survey was mailed to all (57) PEM fellowship program directors in the spring of 2006.

RESULTS: The response rate was 81% (46/57). Fifty-seven percent (26/46) of the responding PEM fellowship program directors reported that their faculty used BUS in their departments. At 50% (23/46) of programs, fellows perform BUS studies. Sixty-five percent (30/46) of PEM fellowships reported that their fellows receive some BUS training, but only 15 of these programs included BUS training in the curriculum as a 2- to 4-week ultrasound rotation.Sixty-five percent (30/46) of PEM fellowship programs had access to an ultrasound machine, but only 28% (13/46) of programs had their own machine. The main reason not to own an ultrasound machine was a lack of ultrasound expertise in their department (67%, 22/33). Bedside ultrasound training was provided by general EM physicians in 57% (17/30) of programs. Eighty-seven percent of the directors agree that BUS training would benefit their practice.The 2 factors significantly associated with the likelihood of having formal BUS training were access to an ultrasound machine (87% vs 55% P=0.04) and presence of an adult ED with an EM residency at the program (80% vs 42% P=0.03). Pediatric emergency medicine fellowship programs at children's hospitals were significantly less likely to have formal training (33.3% vs 74.2%; P=0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: Despite literature supporting the benefits of BUS in the ED, many PEM fellowship programs do not incorporate BUS training for their PEM fellows. Most PEM fellows who receive training in BUS are instructed by physicians trained in EM, not PEM.

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