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Established in 2001, Penn Medicine's Division of Emergency Ultrasound has been a leader in identifying and promoting the use of bedside ultrasound both diagnostically and procedurally. We have teaching and mentoring relationships with the departments of Surgery and Medicine, and provide training to the fellowship programs in Critical Care, Nephrology, Trauma, and PEM (at CHOP). Based partly on these relationships, and partly on Penn Medicine's culture of interdepartmental collegiality, much of our educational and research efforts are interdisciplinary. Past and ongoing projects include partnerships with critical care surgeons, family medicine, cardiologists, pulmonologists, anesthesiologists, and gynecologists.

Reflecting the mission of the School of Medicine and Clinical Practices of the University of Pennsylvania, the Division of Emergency Ultrasound has three major areas of activity: clinical practice, education, and research.

Credentialed faculty has full autonomy to perform ultrasound as part of their clinical practice. 

Highlights of Penn Emergency Ultrasound include:

  • Five ultrasound machines are available for use 24/7.
  • Faculty may bill for exams performed.
  • Training of medical students, residents, fellows and faculty across the specialties, and from around the world.
  • Our longstanding Ultrasound Fellowship Program provides rigorous training in clinical ultrasound, ultrasound education, and how to accomplish quality research.
  • Success in obtaining grants for single-site and multi-site research.
  • Our Division has significant presence at national and international meetings, and has published extensively in the field.

What is Emergency Medicine Bedside Ultrasound? (EMBU)

Emergency Medicine Bedside Ultrasound (EMBU) is a diagnostic modality deployed in real-time by the treating physician to get immediate information at the bedside about the condition of a patient. Ultrasound applications that assist in the evaluation of time-critical illnesses can de facto only be provided by the treating physician at the bedside. Historically it was this compelling logic — not the cost savings or convenience or avoidance of ionizing radiation — that led to the acceptance of the clinician-performed FAST exam in the 1990’s. With mounting pressures for out-patient management of increasingly complex diseases using potentially more dangerous therapies, the acuity of patients presenting to the ED will continue to rise, and the uses of point-of-care ultrasound in the management of time-critical illnesses are likely to continue to be extended.

In our department, faculty have autonomy to perform EMBU to be used in clinical decision-making, as and when it deems clinically appropriate. The credentialing committees at both HUP and PPMC recognize EMBU in both "Restricted" (limited to specific ultrasound applications) or "Unrestricted" (no specific limitation of ultrasound applications) privileges. There has been reimbursement for clinical ultrasound services rendered in the emergency department since the inception of the program in 2001. In the ED at HUP, the ultrasound stable includes an Acuson X-300, a Zonare, an Ultrasonix, and two SonoSite M-Turbos in the ED. There is an additional dedicated M-Turbo in the trauma bay. At PPMC, SonoSite M-Turbos are used.

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