Simulation – Preventing Medical Errors

Simulation, Medical Errors

Simulation – Preventing Medical Errors

As technology evolves, so does the pursuit for new techniques to train health care providers more efficiently and to ultimately prevent medical errors. Simulation has met this goal and in fact, simulation is now becoming the standard for education of health care providers. In high stakes areas such as obstetrics (OB), neurosurgery and even trauma services, the use of simulation has become priceless.

Last semester, I had the opportunity to be a simulation facilitator for our 2nd year medical/surgical nursing students. In the simulation I was responsible for, the “patient” had a small intracranial hemorrhage that deteriorated. During the simulation, the students are completely responsible for the care of their “patient”. The goal of the simulation is to place the students in complex situations that we normally can not produce in the clinical environment – for example, we can’t just walk about the hospital and ask patients to seizure, just so the student can have the “experience”.

Also, during a high stakes situation, this is not the ideal time for a student or new health care provider to learn. Therefore, by using the simulation environment, we are able to place the student in high stakes situation, however with no risk to any human life. If the students should fail to recognize a deterioration or give a wrong medication, although the “patient” will die, we just reset, learn from the experience and correct the action – however, no harm.

Simulation Use

The use of simulation is not a new concept. From the use of mannequins to learn CPR to the practice of injecting oranges to learn medication administration, simulation is not new. However, what has evolved, is the use of technology and the integration into the simulation environment. This has provided educators new tools in the training of health care providers, however, the greatest benefit is of course to the patients whose lives are saved and errors prevented.

Often times, health care providers are confronted with unusual or even rare situations. The hope is that they had experienced a similar situation in their training, however, this might not always be the case. This is especially true in the area of obstetrics. Although a physician or nurse may have attended hundreds of deliveries during their training, they often are not afforded those rare situation where time and skill are of the essence.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 800 mothers die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Clearly, there is a need for more training. Medical educators, hospital administrators as well as insurance companies are looking for ways to improve care and reduce costs. This is especially the case in the area of obstetrics. Unfortunately, when a medical error happens in this population, settlements for these cases are in the millions of dollars, as well as the emotional devastation of the families.

Meet Victoria

To help medical professionals address these problems, Gaumard developed Victoria, the most realistic, fully tetherless and wireless birthing simulator. Gaumard designed Victoria to meet health care educators’ needs head on. By making the simulator tetherless, wireless and self-contained, this allows the simulation of care as it would be in the real world. Teams can be trained and educated in the environments to which they are expected to perform and their systems can be tested and evaluated – all without risk to real patients.

Victoria builds on Gaumard’s history of developing birthing simulators since the 1950s. Victoria has a precision, life-like delivery and birthing mechanism and births a life-like full-term baby with sophisticated monitoring capabilities. The Victoria system includes comprehensive clinical scenarios such as shoulder dystocia, postpartum hemorrhage, and breech presentation among others. Victoria and her newborn are ideal for training in all types of scenarios. Again, high stakes learning in a no-risk environment.

Gaumard’s Victoria simulator clearly is meeting the demand for more sophisticated, seamless simulation for the education of health care workers. Their technology reflects the most advanced platform technology and is being recognized by major medical centers and learning institutions. Chris Ochinero, Learning Program Consultant, Simulation, commenting on the addition of Victoria to the Orlando Health Institute for Learning, said: “The addition of Victoria’s innovative technology to our simulation program will further assist our medical, nursing and allied health teams to better manage the most complex obstetrical situations in a safe learning environment. This type of multidisciplinary training exemplifies Orlando Health’s commitment to health education, safety and the quality of medical care.”

Simulation-based training has proven effective in the preparation of healthcare professionals as they learn how to care for patients in realistic settings. A recently published NCSBN study – The National Simulation Study provides evidence that up to half of traditional clinical nurse training hours can be replaced with high-quality simulation experiences. Vivian Gamblian, RN, MSN, CHSE, National League for Nursing Simulation Leader and Coordinator of the Simulation Laboratory for Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing, said: “We are very excited to add the Victoria Birthing Simulator to Baylor’s Simulation Center. The use of Victoria by our students, teachers and health care professionals will enhance the learning experience at our school and provide valuable learning experiences in normal and complex labor situations. Victoria is the latest addition to our simulation center and is a wonderful example of advancements in high fidelity simulation. Her use in our simulation center will allow students to experience realistic clinical opportunities while also providing a safe learning environment.”

Gaumard has produced the most advanced health care education simulators in the industry for more than 60 years from its headquarters in Miami, Florida. Although a major focus has been on the OB market, their innovative team of more than 300, including scientists, engineers and clinical experts, has used Gaumard simulation technology to produce high-fidelity simulators aimed at other medical industry segments: pre-hospital and nursing. With the advancement of the tetherless simulator technology as seen in Victoria, Gaumard is expected to continue to be an industry-leader in other tetherless simulation applications.

We have come along way from our days of simple mannequins for CPR and the expectations of our patients have grown also. The use of simulation is here to stay. The technology is not only available, but challenging us to be better health care providers. It allows us to be more prepared and in the end, care for our patients better and save lives – the reason we went into this profession in the first place.

You can meet Victoria, and her counterpart Trauma HAL, at the International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH) January 10-14, 2015 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA.

Can’t make it to the IMSH? Well, at least see what Victoria can do at Gaumard’s website – you WILL be impressed!

Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

3 thoughts on “Simulation – Preventing Medical Errors

  1. Hi Joan,
    Thanks for this informative post about Med Sim. This kind of practice seems vital for individual and team learning. Another viable pathway for simulation processes that I see is using theatre improvisational activities that build ‘people’ and communication skills as well as critical thinking. I believe that med students in some schools are getting some of this and wonder if you know if nurses are? It is a special passion of mine and I’m interested in opportunities to pilot/develop the process for a wider audience. Thanks, Beth

    • Yes, I think the value of using simulation is becoming more and more apparent, especially in team building in health care. At the school were I teach, that is an objective of our simulation experiences – not just the patient management, but how to work and collaborate as a team. I don’t see this being implemented as much in the work place, unless there are close ties with a university were they can partner. Hopefully this well begin to shift and change as the value of simulation becomes more accepted and obvious. Thanks for visiting!!

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