Hennepin Healthcare physicians are pioneers in ultrasound technology

by Hennepin Healthcare

DSC_0679What’s going on in there? That’s the question healthcare providers ask every day. For nearly 40 years, emergency physicians at Hennepin Healthcare have relied on Point-Of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS) for these life-saving answers.

Hennepin Healthcare is one of the principal locations where the foundation for point-of-care ultrasound was developed in the United States. Back in 1985, HCMC emergency physician Dave Plummer, MD authored some of the earliest publications describing how his peers could use point-of-care ultrasound to improve patient care. In 1988 Dr. Plummer published a breakthrough article called “Principles of Emergency Ultrasound and Echocardiography,” describing how emergency physicians could use this technology to improve diagnostic accuracy and improve emergency management of critically ill and injured patients.

“In those early years, using ultrasound to assess trauma patients was revolutionary,” explains Dr. Plummer. “We realized the benefits of this technology and how it could safely identify internal structures as large as hearts and as small as arteries to inform diagnostic decisions. Today, the technology has vastly improved and so has the need – especially for our rural and underserved communities. This grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust will help save lives.”

Dr. Rob Reardon is also a pioneer educator and leader in Hennepin Healthcare’s point-of-care ultrasound program, who, like Dr. Plummer, has authored numerous publications on its use. “Our success in this area really boils down to the need to quickly assess and treat life-threatening conditions in the context of a Level I Trauma Center,” he said.

Dr. Marc Martel, who, like Dr. Reardon, has worked full-time nights for more than 20 years in the Emergency Department at Hennepin Healthcare. “Point-Of-Care-Ultrasound is non-invasive, rapid and reliable. It has changed the way we diagnose and treat our patients in so many ways, and now we can’t imagine practicing without it,” said Dr. Martel.

On Tuesday, March 21, Dr. Reardon and Dr. Plummer, along with Tom Pahl, PA-C, an emergency medicine clinician at Glacial Ridge Health System in Glenwood Minnesota, participated in a news conference hosted at Hennepin Healthcare by the Helmsley Charitable Trust to announce grants to fund ultrasound imaging devices across Minnesota and train sonographers. All three, along with Dr. Martel, are esteemed instructors with High Quality Medical Education (HQMEDED), one of the programs that will be providing POCUS training across the state thanks to one of the teaching grants from the Helmsley Charitable Trust.

“We are grateful for this opportunity to connect with our partners throughout Minnesota,” said Dr. Plummer. “They already provide outstanding care for their patients, and with this technology, they can get that inside view that they didn’t have before. It will make a big difference in assessments, triage and management of care. It may even mean that we see less patients being transferred to our Level I Trauma Center. But that is better for patients, the people who love them, and in the end, promotes better healthcare outcomes in our communities.”