Medical transport teams often handle cases of complex, critically ill patients and are in need of rapid, bedside assessments to guide clinical decision making. The use of point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) as a diagnostic indicator has gained increased acceptance in emergency medicine. Ultrasound devices have become increasingly portable, and numerous studies have demonstrated that use in the prehospital setting is feasible, accurate, and can have a dramatic impact on the care of patients. In this case report, we highlight the use of handheld ultrasound in the identification of right heart dilation in an unstable patient with respiratory failure in a rural emergency department, concerning for massive pulmonary embolism. The patient was given thrombolytic therapy with dramatic clinical improvement, ultimately surviving transport to the intensive care unit at a nearby tertiary care center.
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Published online: October 30, 2020
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