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J Prim Health Care. 2018 Oct;10(3):224-236. doi: 10.1071/HC18031.

Scope of point-of-care ultrasound practice in rural New Zealand.

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Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Medical Research Centre, University of Waikato and Waikato District Health Board, New Zealand.
School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Tamaki, Auckland, New Zealand.


INTRODUCTION Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) is an increasingly common adjunct to the clinical assessment of patients in rural New Zealand. AIM To describe the scope of POCUS being practiced by rural generalist hospital doctors and gain insights, from their perspective, into its effect. METHODS This was a mixed-methods descriptive study. Main outcome measures were type and frequency of POCUS being undertaken. A questionnaire was given to POCUS-active rural hospital doctors to survey the effect of POCUS on clinical practice and assess issues of quality assurance. RESULTS The most commonly performed scans were: cardiac (18%) and volume scans (inferior vena cava and jugular venous pressure) (14%), followed by gallbladder (13%), kidney (11%), Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma (FAST) (7%), bladder (6%), leg veins (6%) and lungs (5%). There was large variation in frequency of scan types between the study hospitals that could not be accounted for by differences in training. DISCUSSION Rural generalists consider the broad scope of POCUS they practise to be an important but challenging skill set. Clinical governance, including an agreed scope and standards, may increase the benefits and improve the safety of rural POCUS.


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