Using POCUS in the emergency department (ED) to scan patients with suspected deep vein thrombosis (DVT) cut their length of stay in the ED in half.
Reducing hospital length of stay is one of the holy grails of healthcare quality improvement.
- It’s not only more expensive to keep patients in the hospital longer, but it can expose them to morbidities like hospital-acquired infections.
Patients admitted with suspected DVT often receive ultrasound scans performed by radiologists or sonographers to determine whether the blood clot is at risk of breaking off – a possibly fatal result.
- But this requires a referral to the radiology department. What if emergency physicians performed the scans themselves with POCUS?
To answer this question, researchers at this week’s European Emergency Medicine Conference presented results from a study of 93 patients at two hospitals in Finland.
- From October 2017 to October 2019, patients presenting at the ED received POCUS scans from emergency doctors trained on the devices.
Results were compared to 135 control patients who got usual care and were sent directly to radiology departments for ultrasound.
- Researchers found that POCUS reduced ED length of stay from 4.5 hours to 2.3 hours, a drop of 52%.
Researchers described the findings as “convincing,” especially as they occurred at two different facilities. The results also answer a recent study that found POCUS only affected length of stay when performed on the night shift.
Radiology might not be so happy to see patient referrals diverted from their department, but the results are yet another feather in the cap for POCUS, which continues to show that – when in the right hands – it can have a big impact on healthcare quality.