Five-year Retrospective Review of Physician and Non-physician Performed Ultrasound in a Canadian Critical Care Helicopter Emergency Medical Service.

Research paper by Domhnall D O'Dochartaigh, Matthew M Douma, Mark M MacKenzie

Indexed on: 21 Jul '16Published on: 21 Jul '16Published in: Prehospital emergency care : official journal of the National Association of EMS Physicians and the National Association of State EMS Directors


To describe the use of prehospital ultrasonography (PHUS) to support interventions, when used by physician and non-physician air medical crew (AMC), in a Canadian helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS).A retrospective review was conducted of consecutive patients who underwent ultrasound examination during HEMS care from January 1, 2009 through March 10, 2014. An a priori created data form was used to record patient demographics, type of ultrasound scan performed, ultrasound findings, location of scan, type of interventions supported by PHUS, factors that affected PHUS completion, and quality indicator(s). Data analysis was performed through descriptive statistics, Student's t-test for continuous variables, Z-test for proportions, and Mann-Whitney U Test for nonparametric data. Outcomes included interventions supported by PHUS, factors associated with incomplete scans, and quality indicators associated with PHUS use. Differences between physician and AMC groups were also assessed.PHUS was used in 455 missions, 318 by AMC and 137 by physicians. In combined trauma and medical patients, in the AMC group interventions were supported by PHUS in 26% of cases (95% CI 18-34). For transport physicians the percentage support was found to be significantly greater at 45% of cases (95% CI 34-56) p = < 0.006. Incomplete PHUS scans were common and reasons included patient obesity, lack of time, patient access, and clinical reasons. Quality indicators associated with PHUS were rarely identified.The use of PHUS by both physicians and non-physicians was found to support interventions in select trauma and medical patients.emergency medical services; aircraft; helicopter; air ambulance; ultrasonography; emergency care, prehospital; prehospital emergency care.