Objectives: To determine if a focused transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) training course would improve the accuracy of completion and interpretation of a goal-directed TTE by emergency medicine residents.
Methods: This was a prospective, observational, educational study of the impact of a focused training course on the change in physician performance on pre- and postcourse examinations testing competency in goal-directed TTE defined by five criteria: 1). image orientation, 2). anatomy identification, 3). chamber size grading, 4). ventricular function estimation, and 5). pericardial effusion identification. Subjects included were emergency medicine residents with between ten and 20 hours of noncardiac ultrasound didactics and between 20 and >150 proctored noncardiac ultrasound examinations. All underwent five hours of focused echocardiography didactics and one hour of proctored practical echocardiography training designed and implemented by an emergency physician ultrasound director and a cardiologist. Before the start of the training course, participants completed two examinations: 1) written 23-question test on the above concepts and 2) performance of a TTE on a healthy subject testing 16 elements that define a properly performed examination. After the training course, participants again completed both examinations.
Results: A total of 21 emergency medicine residents qualified for and underwent standardized testing and training. The percentage correct on the precourse written examination was 54% (95% CI = 50% to 59%), and the postcourse examination score was 76% (95% CI = 71% to 80%) (p < 0.005, paired t-test). The percentage correct on the precourse practical examination was 56% (95% CI = 51% to 60%), and the postcourse examination score was 94% (95% CI = 91% to 96%) (p < 0.005).
Conclusions: A focused six-hour echocardiography training course significantly improved emergency medicine residents' percentage scores on both written and practical examinations testing essential components required for correct goal-directed TTE performance and interpretation.