Patient satisfaction and diagnostic accuracy with ultrasound by emergency physicians

Am J Emerg Med. 1999 Nov;17(7):642-6. doi: 10.1016/s0735-6757(99)90150-x.


In recent years, there has been considerable interest and controversy concerning the performance of ultrasound by emergency physicians (ED Sono), but patient satisfaction with ED Sono has not been well studied. The primary purpose of this investigation was to assess the level of patient satisfaction with ED Sono and to compare satisfaction with ED Sono with ultrasound by the Medical Imaging Department (MI Sono). A secondary objective was to assess the accuracy of ED Sono at our facility. During a 5-month period, which included the startup phase of a program for ED Sono, emergency physicians prospectively identified patients who were candidates for ultrasound as a part of their workup. Patients were contacted by telephone after their ED visit and asked to rate satisfaction on a 0 to 10 scale for various aspects of their care, including the ultrasound if one was done. The accuracy of ED Sono was determined by comparing ED ultrasound interpretations with surgical pathology, repeat imaging studies, or clinical follow-up. Two hundred forty patients were entered into the study, and 186 (78%) responded to the satisfaction survey. Satisfaction ratings were similarly high for ED Sono (mean, 8.9; 95% Cl, 8.6 to 9.2) and for MI Sono (mean, 8.8; 95% Cl, 8.2 to 9.4). Eighteen percent of ultrasounds performed by emergency physicians were indeterminate. Excluding indeterminate scans and scans for which confirmation was not possible, the accuracy of ED Sono was 99.1% (95% Cl, 95.1% to >99.9%). We conclude that during the startup phase of our ED Sono program, patient satisfaction was high, and the error rate was very low.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Education, Medical, Continuing
  • Emergency Medicine / education
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training
  • Male
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / education
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / standards*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Ultrasonography / methods*
  • Ultrasonography / psychology*