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A proposed framework for point of care musculoskeletal ultrasound and ultrasound image-guided interventions by physiotherapists: scope of practice, education and governance

Smith, Mike ORCID:, Innes, Sue, Wildman, Stuart and Baker, David 2023. A proposed framework for point of care musculoskeletal ultrasound and ultrasound image-guided interventions by physiotherapists: scope of practice, education and governance. The Ultrasound Journal 15 (1) , 15. 10.1186/s13089-023-00311-y

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Background: The use of point of care ultrasound (PoCUS) in the management of musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders is a diverse area of PoCUS practice. Its use by clinicians, such as physiotherapists, can occur across a wide range of roles and care pathway configurations; however, professional, educational and regulatory uncertainties can leave clinicians, managers and patients at risk. Main body: A PoCUS framework approach (previously applied to support PoCUS consolidation and expansion) is used to frame these proposals. Central to this is the defining of (clinical and sonographic) scope of practice (ScoP). A number of indicative ScoPs are described to both (i) illustrate application of the principles and (ii) provide templates for ScoP derivations for individual services or clinicians. Image-guided MSK interventions are increasingly an aspect of MSK physiotherapy PoCUS. Given the utility of physiotherapists drawing upon their imaging to fully inform the selection (and performance) of such techniques, we present a rationale for competency in undertaking sonographic differentials as a pre-cursor to performing ultrasound image-guided MSK interventions. Alignment of ScoP with the relevant education and formal competency assessments are a cornerstone of the PoCUS framework approach; as such, key aspects of MSK PoCUS education and competency assessment are outlined. Strategies for addressing such requirements in healthcare settings where formal provision is not accessible, are also presented. Governance considerations are aligned with the regulatory environment, including those pertaining to professional guidance and insurance considerations. In addition, generic quality assurance elements are emphasised, as core aspects of high-quality service provision. Whilst the paper clarifies the situation for MSK physiotherapists using PoCUS in the UK, prompts are provided to support other professional groups working in MSK services in the United Kingdom (UK) and MSK physiotherapists/physical therapists in other countries—to facilitate their application of the principles. Conclusion: Acknowledging the breadth of MSK physiotherapy PoCUS practice, this paper draws upon a framework approach to provide integrated ScoP, education/competency and governance solutions, along with mechanisms for other professions working with MSK PoCUS—and physiotherapists/physical therapists outside of the UK—to consolidate and expand their practice.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:, Type: open-access
Publisher: Springer International Publishing
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 March 2023
Date of Acceptance: 12 February 2023
Last Modified: 06 May 2023 21:10

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