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“The Use of Hand-Held Ultrasound Units to Enhance Medical Student Primary Care Clinical Training” – Fullerton Foundation $208,945

Thirty pocket-size,hand-held ultrasound units (GE Healthcare Vscan) have been purchased for integration into the third year family medicine, pediatrics, and internal medicine clerkship training programs. Implementation of this program will enable the USC School of Medicine to more fully prepare its graduates in the use of ultrasound in clinical practice and thus enhance the future effectiveness of the primary care workforce. Students are issued a Vscan at the beginning of each of their three primary care rotations and acquire images of the heart to assess global cardiac function. In addition they acquire abdominal images to assess for abdominal aorta aneurysm, IVC, pleural and pericardial effusions, urinary bladder retention, and ascites depending on the clerkship. Students are encouraged to use the Vscan to image as many patients as possible during both their inpatient and outpatient experiences. Saved images, student notes on reasons for acquisition of images and their impact if any on patient outcomes, and an end of rotation evaluation enable the project staff to monitor progress and evaluate the utility of the Vscan in medical education.

“Development of an Ultrasound Screening Program for Abdominal Aorta Aneurysm in Men over 65 who have ever Smoked” – Fullerton Foundation: $82,450

The U.S. Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF) issued recommendations in early 2005 that were adopted by the Veterans Health Administration, that men 65 to 75 years of age who have ever smoked be offered a screening for Abdominal Aorta Aneurysm (AAA) by ultrasonography. A ruptured AAA is the 10th most common cause of death for men 55 years and older. There are nearly 14,000 male veteran patients in the Dorn VA Medical Center (VAMC) and its community outpatient centers who meet this criteria. To supplement the existing capacity of the Dorn VAMC Radiology Service, two laptop ultrasound units have been purchased and a pool of practitioners from the Primary Care and Medical Services will be trained to screen patients for AAA with ultrasound as part of a usual office visit. The results of this pilot, performed in partnership with the Dorn Research Institute, will be used to advocate for incorporation of AAA ultrasound screening into the standard of care at the Dorn VAMC.

“Ultrasonography Training and Patient Safety” - The Fullerton Foundation: $228,000

The grant award was used to up-fit the Ultrasound Institute, particularly the classroom and hands-on laboratory with furniture, stretchers, and practice models/phantoms as well as audio-video equipment necessary to carry out the training programs.

“Development of Ultrasonography in Rural Primary Care Setting to Enhance the Quality and Safety of Patient Care” – The Duke Endowment: $645,000

Funding from the Duke Endowment supports the training of rural primary care physicians of South Carolina in the use of ultrasonography as a tool for focused screenings and exams in their office practices. The training program consists of three components:

1) introducing physicians to ultrasound with web-based learning modules

2) hands-on supervised training in the office setting with scheduled patients

3) communication to the Ultrasound Institute for additional consultation through an electronic secure portal.

The specific applications taught include exams for abdominal aorta aneurysm screening (AAA) in men over 65 with a history of smoking, exam for isolation of the source of abdominal pain such as gall bladder stones or urinary bladder obstruction, for determination of the existence of plaque buildup and stenosis in the carotid arteries for those with histories of hypertension, high cholesterol, and chronic smoking, for diagnosis of the presence of deep vein thrombosis in the femoral veins of those complaining of leg pain, for checking the existence of left ventricle wall thickening in those with hypertension, for ascertaining the presence of a pleural effusion, and for establishing conception date and for evaluation of the progress of a pregnancy in the first trimester. Seventeen physicians in twelve rural practices have participated in the training. Six of the practices either had ultrasound units on hand or purchased ultrasound units.

“Using Point-of-Care Ultrasound in the Management of Hypertensive Heart Disease in Free Medical Clinic Patients” – The Sisters of Charity: $75,000

This is a demonstration study at a free medical clinic to show the effectiveness of point-of-care laptop ultrasound as a screen to identify individuals with early evidence of heart damage from chronic hypertension. By proving the value of ultrasound as a screening tool within the Free Medical Clinic of Columbia, the program can serve as a model for other free medical clinics throughout South Carolina to significantly enhance the quality of healthcare and, ultimately, health outcomes for the disadvantaged. The project includes the purchase of portable ultrasound equipment that will remain with the free medical clinic.

Ultrasound Institute Logo, USC School of Medicine