Nursing

Increasing patient safety through simulation: Simulation training is an excellent way to educate nurses about patient safety.

Nurse Leader Insider, August 26, 2005

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Simulation training is an excellent way to educate nurses about patient safety. One hospital in Columbus, OH, has elevated its simulation training to a new level. Riverside Methodist Hospital has developed a system that allows nurses, physicians, and other medical team members to train for worst-case scenarios, changing patient conditions, interacting with patients, and using new technologies in its recently opened Center for Medical Education and Innovation.

Planners wanted a facility that could help train physicians and nurses to handle changing conditions in both patients and settings. "We went to different simulators around the country to see what they did," said the center's director, Pam Boyers, PhD.

A third of the facility has been dubbed the Virtual Care Unit, and it comes complete with separate working units. Staff members in training follow a simulated patient suffering from a medical episode. Staff members take the patient through the different units. "The virtual hospital has four rooms, an OR, trauma suite, ICU and then an ordinary patient room. Each room has human patient simulators," says Boyers.

As a result, medical staff can follow one patient through the entire continuum of care, including transfers between units. "We can put one of the simulators in the parking lot and make it have a heart attack. Staff can take the simulator to the trauma unit and stabilize it. Then they can take it to the ICU," says Boyers. "It's also training for the handover of care, and we can change the simulator's condition so the healthcare team can react."

Performing in and moving through different healthcare settings allows staff members to sharpen higher-level thinking skills that can save lives in real emergencies, says Boyers.

"We're practicing higher-level skills with these simulations; communication and critical thinking skills," says Boyers. "Basic skills include things like using equipment. The next level is interventions and procedures. The top-level skills are critical thinking and communication."

According to Boyers, the staff members that have already used the facility have been very impressed.

"They are amazed. That's when I knew we had done this right," said Boyers. "They say things like, 'It makes us feel safer because we can practice without hurting anyone.'"

Source: Adapted from Briefings on Patient Safety (August 2005), published by HCPro, Inc.



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