Tele-ultrasound and paramedics: real-time remote physician guidance of the Focused Assessment With Sonography for Trauma examination.

Am J Emerg Med. 2010 Apr 12. [Epub ahead of print] Boniface KS, Shokoohi H, Smith ER, Scantlebury K.

Department of Emergency Medicine, George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20037, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to examine the capability of ultrasound-nave paramedics to obtain interpretable Focused Assessment With Sonography for Trauma (FAST) images under the remote direction of emergency physicians (EPs).

METHODS: Paramedics without experience using ultrasound participated in a 20-minute lecture covering orientation to the ultrasound machine and the FAST examination. The paramedics subsequently performed FAST examinations on a model patient, whereas the EP remained in another room, out of visual contact. The EP communicated with the paramedic via radio, viewing video from the ultrasound machine on a monitor and directing the probe movements to obtain the views of the FAST examination. We examined the success rate, time to complete the examinations, and adequacy of images from the paramedics' first FAST examination.

RESULTS: Fifty-one paramedics performed their first FAST examinations and were able to successfully complete 100% of the views of the FAST. The median time from probe placement to examination completion was 262 seconds (interquartile range, 206-343 seconds). The median time to complete right upper quadrant (RUQ) versus left upper quadrant (LUQ) views was 39 and 50 seconds, respectively. The time to complete the LUQ scan took significantly longer than the RUQ (P < .01). Paramedics completed cardiac and pelvic view in a median time of 42 and 25 seconds, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: The study demonstrated that paramedics with no prior ultrasound experience could obtain FAST images under remote guidance from experienced EPs in less than 5 minutes. Given rapidly evolving data transmission technology, this has applicability in battlefield, remote, and rural prehospital settings.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID: 20825815 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]