Ultrasound is a pretty HOT TOPiC in SOF medicine. This SOLCUS renaissance is primarily related to its potential to improve outcomes and resolve a number of OPERATiONAL DiLEMMAS in prolonged field care (PFC) settings. As SOF units of all breeds continue to ponder upon the applicability of ultrasound to their particular circumstances, we thought to discuss a few important points that must be considered prior to building a new program. As much as we strive to encourage the use of ultrasound in SOF medicine, we believe that none should be steered in the wrong direction.
The following points are based on our experiences with SOF and civilian POCUS (point-of-care ultrasound) programs:
- MiSSiON-ALTERiNG medical events:
- What kind of mission-altering medical events does your organization deal with?
- Could ultrasound potentially alter the course of action?
- What’s the hypothetical frequency of such “ultrasoundable” medical events?
- Are there any particular elements within your organization that would be more affected than others?
- What’s the cost (financial, operational, …) of such mission-altering medical events, and could it justify the cost of ultrasound equipment and training?
- Minimum EQUiPMENT needs within your organization?
- Consider a “LOANER system” to augment your basic number of machines as needed?
- Number of new STUDENTS that would need to be trained every year?
- Number of PROViDERS that would need periodic refresher training?
- Consider long-term event/deployment related refresher courses?
- Is your organization SELF-SUFFiCiENT in terms of access to ultrasound iNSTRUCTORS & program ADMiNiSTRATORS?
- What are the TELE-MEDiCiNE capabilities of your organization?
- Consider tele-medicine to offer remote support for sono-guided clinical decision making?
- Consider remote supervision to provide LARGE volume TRAiNiNG?
- Consider tele-medicine to complete any potential QI and QA tasks?
- What’s your organizational ultrasound BUDGET?
- Cost of ultrasound machines;
- Cost of training – focus on affordable methods:
- Web-based flipped classroom;
- Sharing of open-access resources;
- No expensive simulation equipment – in our experience sim can be easily accomplished with clips and images of pathology loaded onto a basic tablet.
Analyze these general pointers in the context of any specific needs your organization might have. The above list is merely a starting point!
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you happen to have any questions, suggestions or concerns.