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The Use of Ultrasonography in the Emergency Department to Screen Patients After Blunt and Penetrating Trauma

A Clinical Update for the Advanced Practice Provider

González, Juan M. DNP; Ortega, Johis PhD; Crenshaw, Nichole DNP; de Tantillo, Lila PhD, MS, RN

Section Editor(s): Ramponi, Denise R. DNP, FNP-C, ENP-BC, FAEN, FAANP, CEN; Column Editor

doi: 10.1097/TME.0000000000000267

Use of bedside ultrasonography to identify life-threatening injuries for patients with blunt and penetrating trauma is the standard of care in the emergency department. The “FAST” examination—focused assessment with sonography for traumaultrasound scan of the chest and abdomen allows clinicians to assess critical regions for free fluid without use of invasive procedures as quickly and as often as needed. In addition, ultrasonography has a high degree of sensitivity and specificity and is safe during pregnancy. For patients requiring evaluation of the pleura, the “eFAST” (or extended FAST) may be conducted, which may serve to locate pleural effusions, hemothorax, and pneumothorax. However, ultrasound quality is operator dependent and is recommended with other diagnostic measures to provide a complete clinical picture of trauma patients. Ongoing development of ultrasound competency among established clinicians and nurse practitioner students is vital to maintain diagnostic accuracy and ensure quality care for trauma patients in the emergency department.

University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies, Coral Gables, Florida. (Drs González, Ortega, Crenshaw, de Tantillo); and Jacksonville University, Keigwin School of Nursing, Jacksonville, Florida (Dr de Tantillo).

Corresponding Author: Juan M. González, DNP, University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies, 5030 Brunson Dr, Coral Gables, FL 33146 (

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Disclosure: The authors report no conflicts of interest.

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