CIFC Health Makes Magic With POCUS

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Dr Espana training a resident on proper ultrasound technique and reading

CIFC Health is unique in Connecticut. In addition to being recognized as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) national quality leader, CIFC Health is the only ACGME-accredited Teaching Health Center in the state. We are committed to moving health care forward by providing a level of training that will make alumni of the CIFC Health residency program leaders in the field; and one of the newest ways we are preparing residents to lead, while improving the quality-of-care patients receive, is with the Point of Care (POC) Ultrasound.

Ultrasounds have been used in the medical setting for decades, with many most familiar with the pre-natal uses allowing doctors to monitor the health of unborn children. Many patients are sent to imaging centers for diagnostic ultrasounds, so doctors can confirm or rule out a variety of conditions. In contrast, a POC ultrasound is conducted by the doctor at the bedside during a primary care appointment to diagnose certain conditions, both minor and acute, with greater certainty.

Diagnoses can be made faster, more accurately, and with less delay or discomfort for the patient when their doctor utilizes an ultrasound; and for common conditions such as arthritis, doctors can use the POC ultrasound to track the progression of inflammation and determine whether further treatment is warranted or whether the current treatment is working. For more serious conditions like pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), ultrasounds are 5 times more sensitive than traditional chest x-rays and don’t expose patients to radiation. The images can also be useful in determining whether a biopsy is warranted because different tissue densities are distinguishable.

CIFC’s own, Dr. Christian Espana is leading the charge to expand the use of Point of Care ultrasounds in medicine. While he can cite hundreds of statistics showing how they make the actual patient care better, he points to some of the intangible effects of the ultrasound machines. “Everyone comes to the doctor looking for answers, but many diagnoses are difficult to explain and can even feel fantastical to some patients. The ability to point to a condition on a picture and explain it results in significant increases in patient satisfaction, trust in the provider, and compliance with care directives.”

However, patients aren’t the only ones who can feel stress around a diagnosis. Dr. Espana elaborated on the benefits of this technology to doctors, “Clinicians, especially those at the beginning of their careers, often feel anxiety around even simple medical issues for fear of misdiagnosis. By increasing the data available without further inconveniencing the patients, the anxiety experienced by doctors is decreased as confidence in their diagnoses grows.”

CIFC Health is working to become one of the first Primary Care residencies in the United States with certification in POC Ultrasounds. This would provide our residents with experience that gives them a leg up in the future, while patients receive a level of care usually reserved for academic centers or hospitals.