February 16, 2021
Written by: POCUS Certification Academy
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Despite the advancements in technology and medicine, cardiac arrest continues to be one of the leading causes of mortality in the United States. Each year, it claims the lives of approximately 475,000 Americans. Annually, it is one of the most common causes of death and disability around the world.
A cardiac emergency is an occurrence where, without the proper care and course of action, there is a strong likelihood that it will either be a fatal attack or have lasting negative impacts on the patients’ health. Incidents of cardiac arrest can be divided into two categories: in-hospital and out-of-hospital. In both scenarios, when combatting this fatal public health issue, providing immediate care and treatment is essential.
POCUS and Cardiac Arrest
Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) has numerous benefits. One of these advantages is its ability to enhance cardiac emergency responses by allowing patients to receive chest compressions while being evaluated with POCUS.
This affordable and portable modality offers two crucial advantages that enhance medical professionals’ abilities to provide high-level care.
POCUS is utilized at the patient’s point-of-care. POCUS provides access to real-time information that can better inform medical treatment.
As a result of its ability to address two of the pressing needs in assisting cardiac arrest patients, POCUS is a highly beneficial tool with the ability to reshape the approach to cardiac care.
A Need for Awareness and Education
While research identifies the many benefits of using POCUS in cardiac cases, it also addresses how POCUS should not interrupt or interfere with chest compressions and stresses the potential for adverse effects if not applied correctly. Due to warnings like these, POCUS awareness and education becomes highly critical when used in cardiac cases.
Numerous studies have identified the value of employing POCUS with cardiac arrest. However, there are still barriers in the field to overcome. For example, only approximately 4% of American and Canadian ambulance services currently have an ultrasound device on their units. Considering the large portion of cardiac arrest cases that occur outside of the hospital each year, the limited access to ultrasound within an ambulance directly and negatively impacts the level of care provided.
Despite the obstacles, an increasing number of practitioners are finding POCUS beneficial in cardiac cases, and continual research supports its use.
The Value of POCUS With Cardiac Arrest
Along with recognizing how its portable nature extends the reach of its impact and the significance around the real-time insight it provides, recent research highlights a wide range of other benefits that stem from using POCUS in cardiac arrest cases. The merit of utilizing POCUS when treating cardiac emergencies include:
Increasing the probability of patient survival rates by identifying and addressing potentially reversible causes of arrest. Helping identify a true asystole from a false asystole. Assisting in predicting short-term cardiac resuscitation outcomes.
As its technology advances, more healthcare workers across specialties find value in incorporating POCUS into their work. Medical providers who frequently experience cardiac cases in their practices are among the members of the community seeking opportunities to learn, grow, and implement their ultrasound skills.
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