Continuing in our month long discussion of point of care ultrasound (POCUS), we move to talking about patient understanding and satisfaction. This is all in conjunction with Practical POCUS which will be having courses at the end of this year. We have previously heard that the use of bedside ultrasound has helped with patient satisfaction, but a recent paper investigated the benefits with improving patient understanding.
As mentioned above, Practical POCUS has upcoming courses in Missouri at the end of the year. With a special discount code "TOTALEM" you can get 10% off! Remember to register soon since there is an early bird discount already in place and the limited seating is filling quickly.
The Journal of Emergency Medicine in 2014 published a paper about bedside ultrasound improving patient satisfaction. In that paper, a statistically significant difference of improved satisfaction scores with overall ED care, diagnostic testing, and the perception of the treating emergency physician was seen. Patients reported this improvement in their satisfaction both at the time of their visit and a week later. This has also been seen in pediatric patients including when using POCUS for educational purposes.
Recently, a paper was published in the Southern Medical Journal that discussed the benefits of POCUS in diagnostic understanding. This branches from the concept of utilizing shared decision making (SDM). Some of the potential benefits of POCUS and how it may impact SDM is that images are easily seen and understood by the patients, changes can be tracked and shown over time, and abstract concepts can be made more concrete such as with anatomy and physiology. Visual aids have been demonstrated to improve patient understanding in the past. With POCUS acting as a visual aid, this most likely plays a role.
Utilizing POCUS, patients had a better understanding of the explanation of the health problem. When patients were asked about the value, the only thing that rated higher in the diagnostic process was the history obtained. Other types of imaging, physical examination, and laboratory tests all ranked lower. Not only did patients have a better understanding, but they in turn had better agreement with those treating them. Although some may want to argue that this could be a Hawthorne effect since blinding was impossible. However, researchers did not know the days or patients that would be surveyed.
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