Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) is proving to be an increasing useful diagnostic tool for clinicians at the bedside, and many hospitalists have expressed interest in learning best practices in the use of the technology.
To that end, the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM) is offering a half-day POCUS pre-course at Hospital Medicine 2018 this April in Orlando, with the intent of helping hospitalists learn how best to use POCUS in clinical settings.
“The agenda is really designed to teach people the basics of point-of-care ultrasound,” said Nilam J. Soni, MD, MSc, of the University of Texas at San Antonio and South Texas Veterans Health Care System, also in San Antonio, and a coinstructor of the POCUS pre-course. “It’s designed for the novice learner who has no prior experience in using ultrasound.”
and his coinstructor, Ricardo Antonio Franco-Sadud, MD, of the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, will lead attendees through the basics of “Point-of-Care Ultrasound for the Hospitalist” at . Dr. Soni has taught a version of this course for almost a decade and is the assistant director of POCUS training programs with Veterans Affairs’ Simulation Learning Education and Research Network ( ). The pre-course is a 4.5-hour, multimodal class that involves hands-on training to teach the fundamentals of how to evaluate patients using POCUS.
With this course, Dr. Soni said, SHM is addressing training needs from “above and below.”
“Medical students, residents, fellows – basically doctors in training, whether they are student residents or getting ultrasound instruction in their basic training – when these kids graduate, they are pretty good,” he said. “But what about all the doctors who graduated long ago? They didn’t get any POCUS training. That’s where SHM, CHEST, and some of the other societies come in to play. We can offer these courses for training.”
Ultrasound training and credentialing has become a focus for SHM as interest has grown among clinicians. The Journal of Hospital Medicine recently, “Credentialing of Hospitalists in Ultrasound-Guided Bedside Procedures,” which offers recommendations for credentialing hospitalists in ultrasound guidance and proposes initial and ongoing pathways to improve how hospitalists perform these procedures. The statement emphasizes how ultrasound guidance is increasingly essential to six bedside procedures that are core competencies of hospitalists: abdominal paracentesis, arterial catheter placement, arthrocentesis, central venous catheter placement, lumbar puncture, and thoracentesis.
According to, of Rush Medical College, Chicago, and lead author of the position statement, SHM’s Education Committee convened a POCUS Task Force to take on the project as American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) diplomates are no longer expected as part of their residency training to manually perform certain bedside procedures, with or without ultrasound guidance. SHM’s Board of Directors gave final approval on the statement in September 2017.
“There is much variation in the training and experience of both bedside procedures and point-of-care ultrasound. Many practicing hospitalists, for example, have no experience using ultrasound guidance for central lines,” Dr. Lucas said. “How then should hospitals initially, and then biennially, vet hospitalists’ competence in the performance of ultrasound-guided bedside procedures? This nationwide collaborative of experts, educators and front-line providers puts forth some recommendations to this very thorny problem.”
SHM also offers, in collaboration with the American College of Chest Physicians, afor clinicians. The program is designed primarily to educate hospitalists and other providers caring for acutely ill patients, and requires attendance at a series of training programs within the course of 3 years, at the end of which a clinician must complete a comprehensive skills and knowledge assessment to obtain the certificate.
Focus on POCUS
Although medical societies recognize the growing demand, and are offering more ultrasound training, many hospitalists may not be familiar with POCUS specifically and the benefits of utilizing a bedside ultrasound exam, Dr. Soni noted.
“When we talk about point-of-care ultrasound, how is it different from what everyone else thinks about ultrasound? Specifically, it’s a point-of-care bedside exam” Dr. Soni explained. “So, the same provider – whether it’s a physician, nurse practitioner, or PA – who is taking care of a patient, can use ultrasound at the bedside to evaluate specific things in the patient’s body and answer very focused questions.”
The ability to have a hospitalist immediately use an imaging technique at a patient’s bedside can be invaluable, because it allows the clinician to provide a fairly accurate diagnosis in conjunction with patient input. This is much more effective than the traditional process of ultrasound imaging, Dr. Soni said.
“If you go to your primary care doctor [who orders] an ultrasound, you go to the radiology department and the technician captures the images,” he said. “Then the radiologist, who never even sees the patient, reads the ultrasound images with little to no clinical data.” The compartmentalization of the treating clinician, patient, and radiologist leaves the latter without critical information when reading an ultrasound. POCUS can potentially overcome this problematic situation, Dr. Soni suggested.
The HM18 POCUS pre-course has four objectives:
1. Recognize the fundamentals of ultrasound and the basic operation of an ultrasound machine (“knobology”).
2. Differentiate between the different types of ultrasound transducers and determine which is most appropriate for different POCUS applications.
3. Exhibit proper techniques on focused cardiac and lung ultrasound exams and be able to recognize thoracic pathologies from abnormal ultrasound results.
4. Identify and understand normal sonographic appearance of solid abdominal organs and vasculature of the neck and lower extremities and the ability to interpret abnormal ultrasounds to identify pathologies.
While all attendees can expect to learn a new skill that will improve their practice, POCUS training will specifically benefit hospitalists and the institutions in which they work, Dr. Soni said.
“Hospitalists, by nature, work for the hospital. In most cases, hospitalists are subsidized by the hospital. Because of that, the bigger gain from using ultrasound is not in the billing,” he said. “You can bill for focused ultrasound exams of the lungs, heart, abdomen, etc., and you might get a professional fee of $30-$40. But the bigger win in all of this, financially, is giving people more efficient health care. If we can prevent one complication from a bedside procedure or expedite a patient’s care and get them better sooner, we can save the hospital and the system money.”
The SHM is accredited to provide continuing medical education for physicians by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education. This live activity course will count for a maximum of 4.75 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits.
Point-of-Care Ultrasound for the Hospitalist
Sunday, April 8, 7:30 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
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