Objectives: Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) may facilitate the diagnosis and management of children for various conditions. Integration of POCUS into clinical care requires hands-on training; however, providers may be reluctant to perform educational ultrasounds to improve their skills, as it is a procedure without direct clinical benefit to the patient and due to concerns that it may lower a family's overall satisfaction. We sought to evaluate whether the use of POCUS changed overall patient/caregiver satisfaction in a pediatric emergency department (ED) visit.
Methods: We performed a prospective cohort study of children presenting to a single children's hospital ED. We evaluated overall satisfaction for three groups: 1) children undergoing POCUS for educational purposes, 2) children undergoing POCUS for a specific diagnostic indication, and 3) controls who did not receive POCUS. Overall satisfaction was measured using a 100-point visual analog scale (VAS). We performed a noninferiority test between patients receiving POCUS and controls using a delta of 10 points to determine significance. We also examined satisfaction among patients receiving diagnostic ultrasound and sought to determine patient/caregiver satisfaction with specific elements of the POCUS experience.
Results: We surveyed 159 patients who presented between April 2016 and August 2016 (53 in each group). The three groups did not differ with respect to patient age, sex, or Emergency Severity Index level. The median VAS scores for both the educational and the diagnostic POCUS groups (94 and 94, respectively) were not inferior to the VAS score for the control group (91) with a median (95% confidence interval [CI]) difference of 3.0 (-2.2 to 8.2) for educational and control groups and 3.0 (-1.6 to 7.6) for diagnostic and control groups. No patients/caregivers in the educational POCUS group would refuse an educational ultrasound during a future medical encounter.
Conclusion: Educational POCUS does not decrease patient/caregiver satisfaction among children presenting to the ED.