Complementing the physical examination with a point-of-care ultrasound study (POCUS) can improve patient triage. We aimed to study the impact of POCUS on the diagnosis and management of outpatients and hospitalized patients with suspected cardiac disease. In this multicenter study, a pocket-sized device was used to perform POCUS when the diagnosis or patient management was unclear based on anamnesis, physical examination, and basic diagnostic testing. Eighteen physicians (cardiac fellows 49%, cardiologists 30%, and echocardiographers 21%) performed physical examinations extended by POCUS on 207 patients (inpatients 83% and outpatients 17%). POCUS findings resulted in a change in the primary diagnosis in 14% of patients. In patients whose diagnosis remained unchanged, POCUS results reinforced the initial diagnosis in 48% of the cases. In 39% of the patients, the diagnostic plan was altered, including referral (16%) or deferral (23%) to other diagnostic techniques. Alteration in medical treatment (drug discontinuation or initiation) occurred in 11% of the patients, and in 7% POCUS results influenced the decision whether to perform a therapeutic procedure. Hospitalization or discharge was determined after POCUS in 11% of the patients. In conclusion, during patient triage, extension of the physical examination by POCUS can cause physicians to alter their initial diagnosis, resulting in an immediate change of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Based on POCUS results, physicians altered the diagnostic plan either by avoiding or referring patients to other diagnostic procedures in almost half of the studied population.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine