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Feasibility Evaluation of Commercially Available Video Conferencing Devices to Technically Direct Untrained Nonmedical Personnel to Perform a Rapid Trauma Ultrasound Examination.


Introduction: Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) is a rapidly expanding discipline that has proven to be a valuable modality in the hospital setting. Recent evidence has demonstrated the utility of commercially available video conferencing technologies, namely, FaceTime (Apple Inc, Cupertino, CA, USA) and Google Glass (Google Inc, Mountain View, CA, USA), to allow an expert POCUS examiner to remotely guide a novice medical professional. However, few studies have evaluated the ability to use these teleultrasound technologies to guide a nonmedical novice to perform an acute care POCUS examination for cardiac, pulmonary, and abdominal assessments. Additionally, few studies have shown the ability of a POCUS-trained cardiac anesthesiologist to perform the role of an expert instructor. This study sought to evaluate the ability of a POCUS-trained anesthesiologist to remotely guide a nonmedically trained participant to perform an acute care POCUS examination. Methods: A total of 21 nonmedically trained undergraduate students who had no prior ultrasound experience were recruited to perform a three-part ultrasound examination on a standardized patient with the guidance of a remote expert who was a POCUS-trained cardiac anesthesiologist. The examination included the following acute care POCUS topics: (1) cardiac function via parasternal long/short axis views, (2) pneumothorax assessment via pleural sliding exam via anterior lung views, and (3) abdominal free fluid exam via right upper quadrant abdominal view. Each examiner was given a handout with static images of probe placement and actual ultrasound images for the three views. After a brief 8 min tutorial on the teleultrasound technologies, a connection was established with the expert, and they were guided through the acute care POCUS exam. Each view was deemed to be complete when the expert sonographer was satisfied with the obtained image or if the expert sonographer determined that the image could not be obtained after 5 min. Image quality was scored on a previously validated 0 to 4 grading scale. The entire session was recorded, and the image quality was scored during the exam by the remote expert instructor as well as by a separate POCUS-trained, blinded expert anesthesiologist. Results: A total of 21 subjects completed the study. The average total time for the exam was 8.5 min (standard deviation = 4.6). A comparison between the live expert examiner and the blinded postexam reviewer showed a 100% agreement between image interpretations. A review of the exams rated as three or higher demonstrated that 87% of abdominal, 90% of cardiac, and 95% of pulmonary exams achieved this level of image quality. A satisfaction survey of the novice users demonstrated higher ease of following commands for the cardiac and pulmonary exams compared to the abdominal exam. Conclusions: The results from this pilot study demonstrate that nonmedically trained individuals can be guided to complete a relevant ultrasound examination within a short period. Further evaluation of using telemedicine technologies to promote POCUS should be evaluated.

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