Military Use of Point of Care Ultrasound (POCUS)

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Savell SC, Baldwin DS, Blessing A, Medelllin KL, Savell CB, Maddry JK 21(2). 35 - 42 (Journal Article)

Background: Point of care ultrasound (POCUS) offers multiple capabilities in a relatively small, lightweight device to military clinicians of all types and levels in multiple environments. Its application in diagnostics, procedural guidance, and patient monitoring has not been fully explored by the Military Health System (MHS). The purpose of this narrative review of the literature was to examine the overall use of POCUS in military settings, as well as the level of ultrasound training provided. Methods: Studies related to use of POCUS by military clinicians with reported sensitivity/specificity, accuracy of exam, and/or clinical decision impact met inclusion criteria. After initial topical review and removal of duplicates, two authors selected 17 papers for consideration for inclusion. Four of the authors reviewed the 17 papers and determined the final inclusion of 14 studies. Results: We identified seven prospective studies, of which three randomized subjects to groups. Five reports described use of POCUS in patients, two used healthy volunteers, two were in simulation training environments, four used animal models to simulate specific conditions, and one used a cadaver model. Clinician subjects ranged from one to 34. Conventional medics were subjects in six studies. Four studies included special operations medics. One study included nonmedical food service inspectors. The use of ultrasound in theater by deployed consultant radiologists is described in three reports. Conclusions: Military clinicians demonstrated the ability to perform focused exams, including FAST exams and fracture detection with acceptable sensitivity and specificity. POCUS in the hands of trained military clinicians has the potential to improve diagnostic accuracy and ultimately care of the war fighter.

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