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Minerva Medica 2003 October;94(5):347-52

language: Italian

Emergency department ultrasonography: impact on patient management and cost effectiveness

Vairo G., Salustri A., Trambaiolo P., Pagnanelli A., Marini Grassetti M.


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Aim. Ultrasonography is the most common noninvasive method for the evaluation of body organs and systems. However, the feasibility and potential advantages of ultrasound scanning by emergency physicians have not yet been fully explored. We therefore wanted to determine the impact of ultrasound scanning by emergency physicians on patient management in the Emergency Department, length of hospital stay, and related costs.
Methods. From a data-base search at our hospital we selected 111 patients and divided them into 3 groups according to symptoms: right hypochondriac region pain (Group A), flank pain (Group B), abdominal pain and hemodynamic instability (Group C). Patients were further stratified into 3 subgroups according to whether they were treated by an emergency physician or a radiologist or did not undergo ultrasonography. For each group the mean length of stay in the emergency department, the complications rate, the recurrence rate (defined as return visit to the emergency department for the same pathology) and the related costs were calculated.
Results. Of the 111 patients, 76 received ultrasound scanning, of which 43 were treated by an emergency physician. The length of hospital stay for this group was shorter than that of the other 2 subgroups. The recurrence rate was highest in the group that did not undergo ultrasonography. The costs were lower for the group that received ultrasound scanning by an emergency physician than for the group treated by a radiologist (Euro 20 vs Euro 38).
Conclusion. Ultrasound scanning by emergency physicians can shorten length of hospital stay for emergency patients, reduce recurrence rates for the same pathology and lower patient management costs.

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