Trauma care in developing countries suffers from many limitations related to equipment shortages, disrepair, quality assurance, and lack of training. Health care providers in the three principal hospitals in Cusco, Peru have ultrasound machines, but they do not utilize this for the focused assessment of sonography in trauma (FAST) scan (only one of the three hospitals has a computed tomography scanner).
The goal of this study was to assess the confidence of physicians in a developing country to conduct a FAST exam after an educational intervention.
Participants were Peruvian health care workers who attended a 2-day conference on trauma. Participants completed a questionnaire based on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = no confidence, 5 = high confidence) to assess comfort with the FAST scan before and after a FAST teaching workshop, which included hands-on ultrasound training. Thirteen individuals, eight of whom were physicians, completed the training and survey. Results were analyzed using paired t test statistics and are reported as pre- and post-training mean scores (± standard error), with p < 0.05 considered statistically significant.
Participants rated their confidence in using the FAST exam on a trauma patient with an average score of 3.3 (± 0.3) pre-training and 4.5 (± 0.2) post-training (p = 0.007). When asked about their comfort level in making clinical decisions based on the FAST scan, pre-training average score was 3.5 (± 0.4) and post-training was 4.5 (± 0.2), p = 0.016. Participants also answered questions about their comfort with the technical aspects of using the ultrasound machine: ability to choose the correct probe (pre: 3.9, post: 4.6, p = 0.011), choosing the correct probe orientation (pre: 3.9, post: 4.6, p = 0.008), and adjusting the depth and gain (pre: 3.1, post: 4.4, p = 0.001). Finally, participants rated their comfort with the specific views of the FAST scan: ability to find the correct subcostal view (pre: 3.3, post: 4.9, p < 0.001), right upper quadrant view (pre: 3.2, post: 4.6, p < 0.001), left upper quadrant view (pre: 3.2, post: 4.4, p = 0.001), and the pelvic view (pre: 3.2, post: 4.5, p < 0.001).
After a training session in the use of ultrasound in trauma, health care workers in Cusco, Peru reported increased confidence in their FAST scan ability and in their comfort in using this exam for clinical decision-making. Future research should include objective testing of participants’ skill as well as longitudinal follow-up to determine the extent to which the FAST scan has been incorporated into participants’ evaluations of trauma patients.