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Current Use and Barriers to Point-of-Care Ultrasound in Primary Care: A National Survey of VA Medical Centers.

Nathanson R, Williams JP, Gupta N, Rezigh A, Mader MJ, Haro EK, Drum B, O'Brien E, Khosla R, Boyd JS, Bales B, Wetherbee E, Sauthoff H, Schott CK, Basrai Z, Resop D, Lucas BP, Soni NJ. Current Use and Barriers to Point-of-Care Ultrasound in Primary Care: A National Survey of VA Medical Centers. The American journal of medicine. 2023 Jun 1; 136(6):592-595.e2.

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BACKGROUND: More primary care providers (PCPs) have begun to embrace the use of point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS), but little is known about how PCPs are currently using POCUS and what barriers exist. In this prospective study, the largest systematic survey of POCUS use among PCPs, we assessed the current use, barriers to use, program management, and training needs for POCUS in primary care. METHODS: We conducted a prospective observational study of all VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) between June 2019 and March 2020 using a web-based survey sent to all VAMC Chiefs of Staff and Chiefs of primary care clinics (PCCs). RESULTS: Chiefs of PCCs at 105 VAMCs completed the survey (82% response rate). Only 13% of PCCs currently use POCUS, and the most common applications used were bladder and musculoskeletal ultrasound. Desire for POCUS training exceeded current use, but lack of trained providers (78%), ultrasound equipment (66%), and funding for training (41%) were common barriers. Program infrastructure to support POCUS use was uncommon, and only 9% of VAMCs had local policies related to POCUS. Most PCC chiefs (64%) would support POCUS training. CONCLUSIONS: Current use of POCUS in primary care is low despite the recent growth of POCUS training in Internal Medicine residency programs. Investment in POCUS training and program infrastructure is needed to expand POCUS use in primary care and ensure adequate supervision of trainees.

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