POCUS – Chance or Risk?
“Point-of-Care Ultrasound” (POCUS) is a term that is currently on everyone’s lips. Its uses vary and it is often equated with focused ultrasound, emergency ultrasound, and pocket ultrasound, for example. The increase in the use of POCUS has resulted not only in a major atmosphere of change and new opportunities for ultrasound but also in a general sense of uncertainty. Some colleagues even view POCUS as a threat with regard to quality assurance. Because POCUS will play a major role in the clinical routine in the future, it seems important to ensure clear understanding and standardized usage of the term. POCUS is a bedside ultrasound method that covers examinations from head to toe. It not only focuses on the macroanatomy and pathology but also allows direct evaluation of functional anatomical aspects, physiology, pathophysiology, and hemodynamics and provides support during interventions. Treating physicians with diverse areas of specialization and an interest in a specific organ pathology, particular diseases/symptoms, or an intervention personally perform examinations in various situations (emergency admission, consultation hours, intensive care unit, operating room, etc.) in real time while determining the scope and interpreting the findings. Another significant component of POCUS is the concept of focused ultrasound. Focused means that the examiner is limited to one or more yes-no ultrasound questions (from simple to complicated) and does not perform a conventional comprehensive organ examination or examination of a region or functional unit. The focus is less on ultrasound as an isolated diagnostic imaging method and more on the expansion of the clinical examination. This provides the examiner with an additional tool for making reliable and optimal management decisions and for monitoring patients as needed.