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Safety and usefulness of outreach clinic conducted by pediatric echosonographers.

Research paper by Badr B Al Harbi, Ali A AA Al Akhfash, Abdullah A Al Ghamdi, Abdulrahman A Al-Mesned

Indexed on: 07 Nov '12Published on: 07 Nov '12Published in: Annals of pediatric cardiology



Abstract

Outreach echocardiographic services led by cardiac sonographers may help district level hospitals in the management of patients suspected to have cardiac anomalies. However, the safety and utility of such an approach is not tested.We retrospectively reviewed our experience of patients seen in the outreach visits by the echocardiographers alone and subsequently reviewed in the pediatric cardiology clinic. Comparison between the diagnosis made by the echocardiographer and the consultant pediatric cardiologist were done. We defined safety as no change in patient management plan between the outreach evaluation and the pediatric cardiology clinic evaluation, and we defined usefulness as being beneficial, serviceable and of practical use.Two senior echocardiographic technicians did 41 clinic visits and over a period of 17 months, 623 patients were seen. Patients less than 3 months of age constitute 63% of the total patients seen. Normal echocardiographic examinations were found in 342 (55%) of patients. These patients were not seen in our cardiology clinic. Abnormal echocardiographic examinations were found in 281 (45%) of patients. Among the 281 patients with abnormal echos in the outreach visits, 251 patients (89.3%) were seen in the pediatric cardiology clinic. Comparing the results of the outreach clinic evaluation to that of the pediatric cardiology clinic, 73 patients (29%) diagnosed to have a minor CHD turned to have normal echocardiographic examinations. In all patients seen in both the outreach clinics and the pediatric tertiary cardiac clinics there was no change in patient's management plan.Outreach clinic conducted by pediatric echo sonographers could be useful and safe. It may help in reducing unnecessary visits to pediatric cardiology clinics, provide parental reassurance, and help in narrowing the differential diagnosis in critically ill patient unable to be transferred to tertiary cardiac centers provided it is done by experienced echosonographers.