The subspecialty of critical care echocardiography is a rapidly developing area of cardiac imaging. The United Kingdom Committee for Critical Care Echocardiography was set up in 2009 to examine the remit of echocardiography in critical care, and a successful collaboration between the British Society of Echocardiography (BSE) and the Intensive Care Society has resulted in the establishment of two new critical care accreditation processes: Focused Intensive Care Echocardiography and Advanced Critical Care Echocardiography. These accreditation processes are currently driving the development of satellite echo services within critical care departments throughout the UK. Individual practitioner – and more recently, departmental – accreditation have become well-established processes advocated by the BSE. Practitioner accreditation promotes accountability, and departmental accreditation standardises the environment in which practitioners operate. The accreditation of individual echocardiographers has been embraced by the critical care fraternity; we propose that departmental accreditation for critical care echo services be viewed in the same way. Identifying quality indicators for satellite echocardiography services within critical care areas is therefore the focus of the present quality exploration: our aim is to propose a set of parameters against which satellite critical care echo services can be benchmarked. In publishing our suggestions, we hope to stimulate debate in light of the rapid evolution of critical care echocardiography as a subspecialty practice. We suggest that our proposed parameters could be used to maintain satellite critical care service standards and to help identify departments capable of delivering high-quality services and training in critical care echocardiography.
Toby C Thomas and Claire L Colebourn
Rakhee Hindocha, David Garry, Nadia Short, Tom E Ingram, Richard P Steeds, Claire L Colebourn, Keith Pearce, Vishal Sharma and the Accreditation and Education Committees of the British Society of Echocardiography
The British Society of Echocardiography has previously outlined a minimum dataset for a standard transthoracic echocardiogram, and this remains the basis on which an echocardiographic study should be performed. The importance of ultrasound in excluding critical conditions that may require urgent treatment is well known. Several point-of-care echo protocols have been developed for use by non-echocardiography specialists. However, these protocols are often only used in specific circumstances and are usually limited to 2D echocardiography. Furthermore, although the uptake in training for these protocols has been reasonable, there is little in the way of structured support available from accredited sonographers in the ongoing training and re-accreditation of those undertaking these point-of-care scans. In addition, it is well recognised that the provision of echocardiography on a 24/7 basis is extremely challenging, particularly outside of tertiary cardiac centres. Consequently, following discussions with NHS England, the British Society of Echocardiography has developed the Level 1 echocardiogram in order to support the rapid identification of critical cardiac pathology that may require emergency treatment. It is intended that these scans will be performed by non-specialists in echocardiography and crucially are not designed to replace a full standard transthoracic echocardiogram. Indeed, it is expected that a significant number of patients, in whom a Level 1 echocardiogram is required, will need to have a full echocardiogram performed as soon as is practically possible. This document outlines the minimum dataset for a Level 1 echocardiogram. The accreditation process for Level 1 echo is described separately.