Roberto Copetti, MD (1954 – 2024)

Roberto was born in 1954 and graduated in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Padua in 1979. He joined the fledgling specialty of Emergency Medicine, where he remained, grew, and transformed the specialty in an expanding number of roles, for the next forty years. During the 1980’s he received an advanced degree in Cardiology in Trieste and took on administrative roles in departments of both emergency and internal medicine.

He mastered the sonology of patients from infancy to old age. He used ultrasound to understand patients’ illness both above and below the diaphragm, breaking down the fossilized divide between cardiologists and radiologists. He was among the first in Europe to envision the transformation of “ultrasonography” to sonology: ultrasound imaging as an integral part of clinical care rather than a stand-alone imaging modality.

He immediately applied the new paradigm in his practice. He became an expert in transesophageal echo and was one of the earliest adopters of lung ultrasound, pioneering new ways to use it. His work and teaching in pediatrics showcased the potential of the new diagnostic tool, creating an environment where Point-of-care ultrasound could take root and flourish in many medical specialties.

An astute and attentive clinical observer, he described several sonographic findings of pulmonary diseases of the newborn. Roberto was a passionate educator.
Over his lifetime he organized and took part in literally hundreds of courses and congresses at home and around the world. He continued to teach regularly after retirement, teaching his last course on his 70th birthday, the 22nd of February, less than 2 weeks before his death.

During the period of the 1980’s and ‘90’s, Roberto continued his work in healthcare leadership and health systems infrastructure building. In northern Italy he built a system for specialists in Anesthesia and Emergency Medicine to collaborate and pool their resources across a multi-hospital network, allowing them to provide 24/7 ICU and emergency services to smaller hospitals of the Friuli Venezia-Giulia region of northeast Italy.
From the late 1990’s until his retirement in 2020 he was the Director of several Emergency Medicine Units, including those in San Vito al Tagliamento, Tolmezzo, Latisana, and Trieste.

Roberto was a natural leader who attracted followers with the originality, usefulness, and practicability of his ideas.
He was a founding member of WINFOCUS. He was blessed with the gifts of laughter and a humble demeanor with which he could disarm the haughty, making him a natural consensus-builder when dealing with thorny topics among prickly personalities. His contributions at the First Consensus Conference on Lung Ultrasound were crucial to the impact of that meeting and the guidelines that it produced.
His textbook, co-edited with his long-time colleague, Gino Soldati, has been a point of reference for a generation of sonologists.

Roberto Copetti was a healer of children, a pioneer in our field, and a role model for our profession. Our thoughts go to his family with our gratitude that they shared his precious time with us. While he is in a better place, he leaves us with a world that feels smaller and emptier without him.

WINFOCUS Board of Directors & Executive Committee