PURPOSE: Ultrasonography (US) is a useful tool for intensivists in guiding diagnosis and therapy. There are no data about critical care physicians perception of this modality.
METHODS: A questionnaire of 15-item was distributed randomly to the attendees of the American College of chest physicians ACCP (CHEST 2006). The questionnaire included sections about demographics, US usage, training and billing. To avoid systematic selection bias, questionnaires were distributed at five sessions covering different topics in Pulmonary Critical Care and sleep medicine.
RESULTS: Response rate was 62% form 425 questionnaires which were distributed. Final analysis done for 188, critical care physicians were 97.87% of which 63.3% fellows in training , 17.55% academic, and 18.09% were private physicians. 24- Hour Ultrasonography services were available in 63.83 % .Only 12.23% reported policies for Ultrasonography credentialing and training and 3.19% had formal training. 97.34% reported interest in Ultrasonography and found it helpful in decreasing procedural time (68.62%), enhancing safety (94.15%), and improving reimbursement (32.98%).Categorized analysis by position revealed that Ultrasonography was more available for academic than private physicians(p=0.001). The groups had similar responses for interest in Ultrasonography and lack of clear credentialing policies .Academic physicians used more Ultrasonographic applications (p=0.021) especially for vascular access (p=0.025) and Endobronchial ultrasound (p<0.0001); nevertheless, no difference was found in billing practices (P=0.125).
CONCLUSION: Majority of critical care specialists perceive Ultrasonography as a valuable and helpful tool, therefore most of them are interested in pursuing Ultrasonography training. Academic physicians and fellows in training are using ultrasound more frequently than private specialists, though Ultrasonography billing practices were not different. Policies for Ultrasonography credentialing and training rarely exist.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: The results of this survey call for an urgent policy making for ultrasound training and credentialing. As most of critical care specialists are interested in ultrasonography, more training venues should be available to satisfy an increasing need for this modality. More education is therefore more than ever necessary to formulate appropriate application and reimbursement guidelines.
DISCLOSURE: Mohammad Jarbou, None.