UAB is One of the First US Medical Schools to Give Portable Ultrasound Access to all Students

Mar 20, 2024 at 11:16 am by kbarrettalley

Doctors view image from POCUS on tablet.
Doctors view image from POCUS on tablet.

Every student at the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine now has access to a portable point-of-care ultrasound unit (POCUS), thanks to $2 million federal grant awarded to the Department of Family and Community Medicine. UAB is one of the first medical schools in the United States to give each of its students access to these devices.

Unlike the dedicated machine on wheels used in labor and delivery units, a POCUS unit fits in a clinician’s pocket and connects to a tablet or smartphone to visualize the results.

“Clinicians can use handheld ultrasound to evaluate almost every major organ system and better visualize suspected pathology,” said Steven Brown, MD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. “Some even call it the stethoscope of the future.”

“POCUS could be particularly helpful for patients in rural and urban underserved areas, who face significant wait times for appointments or must travel long distances for care,” said Irfan Asif, MD, Chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

In addition to the 600 devices for medical students, the POCUS Initiative includes 100 units for the community preceptors who teach UAB medical students in their clinics. The preceptors will use the units to identify soft-tissue infections, fluid accumulation in the joints and abdomen, gallbladder disease, kidney stones, heart failure, dehydration, and more. The department will educate and train residents and faculty, as well as medical students.

A provider can use handheld ultrasounds to determine whether a soft-tissue lesion is an abscess or a cyst or a lipoma or a mass; to determine whether a patient has a torn tendon, examine the gallbladder for stones or look at the heart to determine how well it is functioning — all of which could be done without having to send patients out for additional tests and referrals.

March 2024

Mar 20, 2024 at 11:19 am by kbarrettalley

Your March 2024 Issue of Birmingham Medical News is Here!