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American Academy of Emergency Medicine

Performance of Emergency Screening Ultrasound Examinations

Performance of Emergency Screening Ultrasound Examinations

Adopted by the AAEM Board of Directors, February 1, 1999

Definition
An Emergency Screening Ultrasound Examination (ESUE) is a sonographic imaging procedure performed by an emergency physician on a patient in the emergency department in an effort to detect acute medical problems.

Purpose
The purpose of obtaining this sonographic information would be to expedite patient diagnosis, treatment, or flow in the emergency department.

Statement
The following statements reflect AAEM's position on ESUEs:

  1. The skills necessary to perform an ESUE can be learned by emergency physicians.

  2. The ability to rapidly evaluate multiple organ systems noninvasively makes ultrasound a valuable diagnostic tool for emergency physicians.

  3. The application of ESUEs may include:

  1. Any clinical situation in which a potential life- or organ-threatening emergency might be diagnosed in a timely manner.

  2. Any clinical situation in which traditional ultrasound or other gold standard diagnostic study performed in the radiology department is significantly delayed.

  1. Emergency physicians may be credentialed in the use of ESUEs. Experts in the field of emergency ultrasonography should establish the credentialing criteria. The ability to incorporate ultrasonography into the practice of Emergency Medicine should be based on these established credentials.

  2. The core curriculum of Emergency Medicine residency programs should include training in performing and interpreting ESUEs.

  3. Emergency ultrasound research is imperative to define specific settings in which ultrasound is best utilized by emergency physicians.

  4. Firmly incorporated continuing medical education should be readily available for emergency ultrasonography.

  5. Continuous quality improvement should be established in each institution to ensure safety and performance of equipment, along with supervision of physician technical skills and interpretation of ultrasound images.