The Technical Errors of Physicians Learning to Perform Focused Assessment With Sonography in Trauma

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Abstract

Objectives:

The objective was to assess the incidence of various technical errors committed by emergency physicians (EPs) learning to perform focused assessment with sonography in trauma (FAST).

Methods:

This was a retrospective review of the first 75 consecutive FAST exams for each EP from April 2000 to June 2005. Exams were assessed for noninterpretable views, misinterpretation of images, poor gain, suboptimal depth, an incomplete exam, or backward image orientation.

Results:

A total of 2,223 FAST exams done by 85 EPs were reviewed. Multiple noninterpretable views or misinterpreted images occurred in 24% of exams for those performing their first 10 exams, 3.6% for those performing their 41st to 50th exams, and 0% for those performing their 71st to 75th exams (Cochran-Armitage trend test = 10.5, p < 0.0001). A single noninterpretable view, poor gain, suboptimal depth, incomplete exam, or backward image orientation occurred in 48% of exams for those performing their first 10 exams, 17% for those performing their 41st to 50th exams, and 5% for those performing their 71st to 75th exams (Cochran-Armitage trend test = 11.6, p < 0.0001).

Conclusions:

The incidence of specific technical errors of EPs learning to perform FAST at our institution improved with hands-on experience. Interpretive skills improved more rapidly than image acquisition skills.

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