Both the technology and uses for ultrasound has expanded greatly in recent decades. The noninvasive technology allows visualization of internal structures without exposing a patient to radiation. On September 12, UCLA Health System announced that it had received a $250,000 University of California grant to implement the bedside ultrasound training program. The two-year grant, “Impact on Quality and Safety of the Implementation of a Formal Curriculum for Bedside Ultrasound at UCLA,” will be led by Dr. Elizabeth Turner, UCLA director of bedside ultrasound in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.
UCLA notes that the grant is the result of a new partnership between the UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation and UC’s system-wide Office of Risk Services. The joint venture, called the Center for Health Quality and Innovation Quality Enterprise Risk Management, is part of an effort to improve patient care and satisfaction throughout UC Health. “Bedside ultrasound monitoring rose to the top as a project that we would like to see expanded at UC medical centers,” explained Terry Leach, executive director of the innovation center. She added that using portable ultrasound machines when placing central lines was listed by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality as one of 10 strongly encouraged patient safety practices. This diagnostic tool is becoming more prevalent in other areas of hospitals as well.
Bedside ultrasound involves portable ultrasound exams, performed and interpreted by the physician at the time of an exam. It is a tool that can help quickly identify which medical test a patient should receive, and who should administer it. Two years ago, Dr. Turner received a grant from the innovation center to develop a curriculum for bedside ultrasound training while she was working at UC Irvine. The curriculum helped critical care and cardiology fellows at UC Irvine gain knowledge and confidence equal or superior to that of experts and apprentice-based learners; this was accomplished in a shorter time than other training pathways.
The new grant will lead to implementing the bedside ultrasound training curriculum at several intensive care units (ICUs) at UCLA and will include assessment of the curriculum’s impact on care quality and safety. Dr. Turner will focus training on treatment of circulatory shock, a condition that occurs as a result of inadequate blood flow to vital organs; this situation is a common issue in critically ill patients, and one that can be readily detected by ultrasound during an exam. “Studies have shown that this diagnostic tool can improve the quality of patient care,” Dr. Turner said. “You can get the right therapy to the patient earlier, make better therapeutic decisions and improve the outcomes. There are direct and indirect cost savings, and patient satisfaction also may improve if we implement this as part of our practice.”