Point of care ultrasound is bringing ultrasound to increasing numbers of hospital departments, practitioners and patients, with advancing technology making ultrasound more accessible than ever before, and an essential tool throughout the hospital. What is clear, is that ultrasound is changing, but can decontamination processes keep pace with these developments? Richard Fish discusses the challenges and solutions.
Point of care ultrasound (POCUS) is taking imaging to locations in hospitals where ultrasound would not have been found in years gone by. More than ever before, the modality is an essential diagnostic tool that can be found in medical imaging, obstetrics and gynaecology (OBGYN), cardiac surgery, the emergency department, vascular access, physiotherapy, ambulance services, the operating theatre, intensive care units (ICUs), and gastro-enterology; and this is by no means an exhaustive list. With POCUS, the ultrasound probe travels to the patient whenever and wherever care is needed. So, the traditional model of taking the patient to the ultrasound console is no longer the only patient pathway. Today, ultrasound can be delivered via an app and smart device technology: a mobile companion to the traditional console. Ultrasound is changing. But are Trusts’ decontamination processes able keep up?
A key theme in ultrasound innovation is ‘static to mobile’, and disinfection of ultrasound equipment needs to stay on trend. Disinfection machines that are tied to a specific location, because they need a power supply or because they are only certified for use in that location by the staff that work there, are not going to keep pace with innovation in ultrasound.
Ultrasound is evolving rapidly. We’ve seen dramatic advances in the last decade and it’s an exciting and revolutionary field for practitioners. Rather than going to dedicated treatment rooms, what we are seeing is a greater reliance on the point of care approach. Ultrasound devices are becoming multi-use, wireless and mobile as new technology advances reach hospital front lines. Ultrasound is connecting with smart phones, being used in needle procedures, and providing manoeuvrable high-resolution imaging. The devices are travelling around hospitals, instead of diagnosis being anchored in one place.
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