Hospitalist use of hand-carried ultrasound: preparing for battle

Bruce J Kimura, Stan A Amundson, David J Shaw
Journal of Hospital Medicine: An Official Publication of the Society of Hospital Medicine 2010, 5 (3): 163-7
Hand-carried ultrasound (HCU) is a burgeoning technology at a critical point in its development as a general diagnostic technique. Despite the known safety and accuracy of ultrasound in radiology and echocardiography, the use of HCU to augment physical diagnosis by all physicians has yet unrealized potential. In order to incorporate ultrasound into a diagnostic model of routine bedside application, simple imaging and training protocols must first be derived and validated. Simplified cardiac ultrasound exams have already been validated to detect evidence-based targets such as subclinical atherosclerosis, heart failure, and elevated central venous pressures. However, for general examination of the acutely ill patient, it is the internist-hospitalist who should derive a full-body ultrasound examination, balancing training requirements with the numerous clinical applications potentially available. As the hospital's leading diagnostician with ultrasound expertise available in-house, the hospitalist could develop HCU so as to triage and refer more appropriately and limit unnecessary testing and hospital stays. Active involvement by hospitalists now in the planning of outcome, validation, and training studies, will be invaluable in the formation of an "ultrasound-assisted" physical examination in the future and will promote competent, cost-effective applications of HCU within general medical practice.

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