Free online training in the use of lung ultrasound to diagnose COVID-19 is being made available to upskill medical, nursing and paramedical staff.
Hosted by the University of Melbourne, the training takes about 30 hours and includes simulation exercises. Participants will learn how to perform a lung ultrasound, the implications of specific ultrasound findings in COVID-19, and how to use an ultrasound machine completely encased in a plastic sheath for tighter infection control.
University of Melbourne cardiothoracic surgeon and course director Professor Alistair Royse said being able to perform bedside lung ultrasounds would make a significant difference to the speed of clinical decision making.
“COVID-19 patients can sometimes become critically ill within a matter of hours. The ultrasound is able to identify subtle early changes, and this would allow early interventions to be started,” he said.
“This information can assist decisions on therapies such as steroids and antivirals at an earlier stage of the disease where interventions may potentially have a larger impact on outcomes.”
“And as the experience in Italy and elsewhere has shown, seemingly small things, like how a patient is positioned, can make a major difference – whether they are in the prone position or lying on their back during ventilation.”
A recent letter from the frontline in Italy to the editors of Echocardiography said lung ultrasound was being used to identify lung involvement and severity in COVID patients.
“In addition, serial studies help us follow for progression or regression of disease.”
“With the application of lung ultrasound we have had a noted reduction in use of chest x-rays and CT scans during this pandemic, helping make care and management of our patients a little more effective.”
The University of Melbourne said their Mobile Learning Unit would soon be releasing other COVID short courses including critical care and rapid response.