Last month, HCA, the nation’s largest health care company, adopted a comprehensive program based on ACEP guidelines that allows their network of 172 hospitals to incorporate bedside emergency ultrasound.
Explore This IssueACEP News: Vol 29 – No 05 – May 2010
With more than 6 million patient visits annually at HCA hospitals, the Advancing Clinical Ultrasound Toolkit will enhance patient care and accelerate innovation in community emergency medicine nationwide.
“The HCA Advancing Clinical Ultrasound project is unprecedented in emergency medicine,” said Dr. John Kendall, an adviser to the project and past chair of ACEP’s Ultrasound Section.
“It identifies a tool to improve patient care and then provides the start-to-finish direction for emergency physicians wanting to establish a strong program,” he said. “In my opinion, it will have a measurable and lasting impact on the care of emergency department patients.”
Dr. Stephen Hoffenberg, an ACEP member from Denver, along with 15 other emergency physicians and HCA quality experts, created the program.
There were several key factors for HCA and the emergency physicians in creating this program, Dr. Hoffenberg said, including:
- Recognizing bedside ultrasound as an important quality initiative and an advancement in the safety and efficiency of emergency patient care;
- Developing comprehensive tools to facilitate new program implementation for those emergency groups choosing to adopt ultrasound technology, as well as to standardize existing programs;
- Recognizing specialty-specific standards as published and endorsed by ACEP as the basis for training, hospital credentialing, and application selection in emergency medicine; and
- Focusing on patient care and safety, rather than hospital politics and physician economics.
The effort started in the fall of 2008 when the ED Physician Advisory Council (EDPAC) and the HCA Quality Department undertook an in-depth evaluation of “Clinical Ultrasound,” Dr. Hoffenberg said. The effort defined clinical ultrasound as those ultrasounds performed by clinicians at the bedside, within the context of clinical care, interpreted as images are displayed and utilized for immediate clinical decision making or for procedure guidance. Clinical ultrasound was thus differentiated from traditional consultative imaging services and was acknowledged as a patient-centered, safe, efficient, and effective modality.
the initiative will provide hundreds of emergency physicians with the tools and support to provide this lifesaving technology.
A variety of specialties using clinical ultrasound were recognized, such as anesthesia, critical care, pulmonary medicine, trauma surgery, and more. However, the project’s focus has been on emergency medicine. HCA based its program on multiple ACEP emergency ultrasound documents, including the guidelines, imaging compendium, and coding and reimbursement documents (available at www.acep.org).