The Use of Bedside Ultrasound for Gallstone Disease Care within a Community-based Emergency Department: A Confirmation Bias.

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Spartan Med Res J


INTRODUCTION: Traditional evaluation for suspicion of gallstone or gallbladder-related disease includes evaluation with a formal technician-performed ultrasound. However, the use of point-of-care bedside ultrasounds (Bedside US) has been shown to be a viable alternative for the diagnosis of gallstones and gallbladder-related diseases.

METHODS: This retrospective study compared the use of no ultrasound (No US), a formal technician performed ultrasound (Tech US) and Bedside US for gallstone and gallbladder related diseases within a community hospital emergency department between January 1, 2015 and January 1, 2018. Initial vitals, lab work, patient socio-demographics, medical history, emergency department length of stay in hours and disposition were reviewed.

RESULTS: Of a total N = 449 patients included, patients who received a Bedside US had the fewest computerized tomography scans (No US 62% vs. Tech US 29% vs. Bedside US 16%; p < 0.0001), the shortest median emergency department length of stay (No US 4.5 days vs. Tech US 5.0 days vs. Bedside US 3.0 days; p < 0.0001), and were more likely to be discharged home (No US 41% vs. Tech US 55% vs. Bedside US 81%; p = 0.0006) compared to those that received no ultrasound or a formal ultrasound. Patients who received a Bedside US also had the statistically significant highest incidence of prior cholelithiasis (No US 29.4% vs Tech US 14.3% vs. Bedside US 31.3%; p = 0.001) and lowest total median bilirubin levels (No US 0.5 vs. Tech US 0.5 vs. Bedside US 0.3; p = 0.016) when compared to the other two groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Although there was a confirmation bias, these study results indicate that point-of-care bedside ultrasound could be a viable alternative for gallstones and gallbladder-related diseases with benefits of use in a community hospital setting.





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