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2013-01-19 Dr. Dawson makes impact with ultrasound

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Dr. Dawson makes an impact with ultrasound

An emergency medicine doctor we recently hired at UK is already making a big impact on how we take care of our patients. And he’s using technology to spread his message around the world.

Matthew Dawson, MD, joined us full-time in August. Since then, he’s spent much of his time teaching other doctors and nurses at UK HealthCare how to use ultrasound technology to get patients the care they need more quickly and effectively, such as avoiding repeated (and painful) IV sticks.

Recently, Dr. Dawson spent a Saturday teaching more than 100 nurses from several organizations across Kentucky – all of whom attended on their own time – how to use ultrasound to more quickly and effectively place IVs into patients who might otherwise need to receive fluids or medications by a central line. Aside from eliminating painful sticks, avoiding a central line can also save lives.

“I have been so impressed by the willingness and excitement of people here to learn new skills,” Dr. Dawson said. “Sometimes you worry when you bring something new in if people will be skeptical or not interested. But it’s been overwhelming how much people want to learn this.”

Dr. Dawson said research has found that for every 100 central lines administered in a hospital, there are approximately 14 complications, including clots, collapsed lungs and infections, and one to two deaths. UK is already using ultrasound more in its emergency room, and Dr. Dawson is working with doctors in other departments, including the intensive care unit.

“Most people think of ultrasounds as a big machine in radiology,” Dr. Dawson said. “But now doctors can use them right at the bedside and look inside the body, supplementing the physical exam. The ones in the ER are as small as a laptop, and some now fit in your coat pocket.”

Ultrasound has other diagnostic abilities, too. Dr. Dawson said he envisions athletic trainers using machines right on the sidelines to know if injured football or basketball players have a serious injury that needs immediate attention, or whether they can simply be wrapped and sent back into the game.

Dr. Dawson is such a supporter of ultrasound, he’s using the Internet to spread his message. He’s just co-authored an ibook for the iPad that was recently the No. 1 selling medical textbook on iTunes called Introduction to Bedside Ultrasound.  The ibook has more than 10 hours of interactive content, including videos and demonstrations, to help train doctors more effectively. He’s working on a second volume to be published within the next couple of months.

He also hosts the Ultrasound Podcast, which has listeners in more than 200 countries. And he has released a free app called One Minute Ultrasound that is popular with residents and medical students. It provides 60-second video demonstrations on using bedside ultrasound.

“Medical students come to me during their shift, and when we decide a patient needs a certain ultrasound I ask them if they know how to perform it.  Of course, they always say yes,” Dr. Dawson said. “Then they go around the corner and I hear them start up the app, which always impresses me.  They’re so good at adapting new technology to learn more quickly.  It’s a quick demonstration of how to position your hand, what looks normal, and different pathology. It’s not meant to teach ultrasound, but it’s a great refresher if you’ve already been to a course or learned in the past.”

Dr. Dawson’s next big event is planned for April, where he’ll bring doctors from around the world to Castle Post in Versailles for a 4-day seminar. It’s open to anyone and you can register at castlefest.ultrasoundpodcast.com. Doctors from Canada, Europe, Australia and Pakistan attended last year’s inaugural event.

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