Making the financial case for a surgeon-directed critical care ultrasound program

Sarah B. Murthi, Heidi L. Frankel, Mayur Narayan, Matthew Lissauer, Mary Furgusen, Syeda H. Fatima, Thomas M. Scalea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: We sought to demonstrate that a well-staffed, surgeon-directed, critical care ultrasound program (CCUP) is financially sustainable and provides administrative and educational support for point-of-care ultrasound. METHODS: The CCUP provides a clinical service and training as well as conducts research. Initial costs, annual costs (C), revenue (R), and savings (S) were prospectively recorded. Using data from the first 3 years, we calculated the projected C, R, and S at 5 years. We determined CCUP sustainability by C < R and C < R + S at 3 years and 5 years. RESULTS: During 36 months, the CCUP covered four surgical intensive care units (55 beds). Start-up costs included one basic and one cardiovascular device per 25 beds and a data storage system linking reports and images to the electronic medical record ($203,650). Billing increased threefold from Years 1 to 3, with a 21% increase between Years 2 to 3. Yearly costs included 0.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) sonographer and 0.2 FTE surgeon ($106,025); this was increased to 1 FTE and 0.25 FTE, respectively, for Years 4 and 5. The total 3-year cost was $521,725 and projected to be $863,325 by Year 5. The total 3-year revenue was $290,775 and projected to be $891,600 at 5 years. The total 3-year savings associated with the CCUP was $600,035 and is projected to be $1,194,220. With the use of the C < R, the CCUP meets operating expenses at Year 3 and covers overall cost at 5 years. If savings are included, then the CCUP is sustainable by its third year and is potentially profitable by Year 5. CONCLUSION: A surgeon-directed CCUP is financially sustainable, addresses administrative issues, and provides valuable training in point-of-care ultrasound.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-346
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2014


  • Echocardiography
  • economic model
  • intensive care unit
  • point-of-care ultrasound
  • ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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