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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 26  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 160-168

The prevalence and patterns of use of point-of-care ultrasound in Newfoundland and Labrador

1 Discipline of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Medicine Memorial University, Canada
2 Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, the University of Toronto, Canada
3 Medical Student with the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial Univeristy, Canada
4 Division of Community Health and Humanities, Faculty of Medicine Memorial University, Canada

Correspondence Address:
MD Gillian Sheppard
Discipline of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Medicine Memorial University
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cjrm.cjrm_61_20

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Introduction: Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) is used for diagnostic and procedural guidance by physicians in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL). POCUS use is largely limited to urban locations and the training is variable amongst physicians. The primary aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of POCUS devices in NL and the secondary aim was to characterise the patterns of POCUS use amongst physicians in NL. Methods: This is a mixed-methods cross-sectional study. We determined the prevalence of POCUS devices from purchase records and the patterns of POCUS use through theme-based interviews. The interviews were transcribed, coded and analysed using standardised qualitative methods. Results: Ten physicians (3 females, 5 rural) participated in the interviews. The overall prevalence of POCUS devices in NL was 12.5/100,000 population. Participants in urban areas had more access to POCUS training and devices. Participants used POCUS on a daily or weekly basis to rule in or out life-threatening conditions and improve access to specialist care. The benefits of POCUS included expedited investigations, decreased radiation and increased patient satisfaction. The barriers to using POCUS were lack of training, time, devices, image archiving software, difficulty generating and interpreting images and patient body habitus. Conclusion: This is the first study to our knowledge to report the prevalence of POCUS devices in Canada. Physicians who practise in rural NL have limited access to POCUS devices and have identified barriers to POCUS training. Connecting physicians in rural areas with POCUS experts through a province-wide POCUS network may address these barriers and improve healthcare access.

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