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Point of care ultrasound in acutely breathless patients-A qualitative study of the enablers and challenges in a teaching hospital in Kenya

Kagima, Jacqueline, Masheti, Sheila Ayesa, Mbaiyani, Collins Wamunye, Munubi, Aziz Zeyazi, Ringwald, Beate, Meme, Hellen Karimi, Joekes, Elizabeth, Welters, Ingeborg, Morton, Ben ORCID: and Rylance, Jamie ORCID: (2021) 'Point of care ultrasound in acutely breathless patients-A qualitative study of the enablers and challenges in a teaching hospital in Kenya'. Journal of the Pan African Thoracic Society, Vol 2, Issue 3, pp. 130-139.

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Acute breathlessness is a common and distressing symptom experienced by patients presenting to the emergency department (ED). Adoption of clinician-performed bedside ultrasound could promote accurate, early diagnosis and treatment to acutely breathless patients. This may be particularly pertinent in low resource settings with limited human resources and lack of access to advanced (gold standard) diagnostic testing. The aim of the study was to explore the experience of point-of-care ultrasound (PoCUS) users in the emergency department, and to understand the facilitators and constraints of PoCUS incorporation into patient investigation pathways.

This was an exploratory qualitative study. Data collection entailed key informant interviews using a semi-structured interview guide between September 2019 and February 2020. Participants were purposively sampled according to role and responsibility in the acute care system at Kenyatta National Hospital, including front-line health practitioners and mid-level clinical hospital managers. Data collection proceeded until no new concepts emerged (thematic saturation). The analytical framework method was used for the thematic analysis of interview transcripts.

At individual level, the lack of training on the use of PoCUS, as well as fears and beliefs impacted on capability and motivation of the clinicians to perform PoCUS for clinical diagnosis. Hospital level influencers such as hospital norms, workloads, and staffing influenced the use of PoCUS by impacting on the clinician’s capability, motivation, and opportunity. General health system influencers such as relationships and power dynamics between clinical specialties and key stakeholders, and the lack of policy and practice guidelines challenged the uptake of the bedside ultrasound by the clinicians.

Lack of PoCUS training for clinicians, limited resources and a fragmented health system structure impacted the clinician’s capability, motivation, and opportunity in performing PoCUS in diagnostics. PoCUS for diagnosis of acute breathlessness requires: (1) Well-maintained and accessible equipment; (2) highly trained individuals with time to perform the examination with access to ongoing support for the operators; and (3) finally, researchers must more accurately identify the optimal scope of ultrasound examination, the diagnostic benefits, and the opportunity costs. All three will be required to ensure patient’s benefit.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: WA Public Health > Health Problems of Special Population Groups > WA 395 Health in developing countries
WF Respiratory System > Lungs > WF 600 Lungs
WN Radiology. Diagnostic imaging > WN 180 Diagnostic imaging (General)
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > Clinical Sciences Department
Clinical Sciences & International Health > International Public Health Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Debbie Jenkins
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2021 09:45
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2021 09:45


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