Web site spotlight: Enhancing patient safety culture with simulation

Nurse Leader Insider, April 13, 2009

Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to Nurse Leader Insider!

It’s not uncommon for hospitals to offer some variation of simulation-based training in which nursing students learn clinical techniques by using lifelike mannequins. While this strategy is beneficial in helping novice nurses develop clinical skills before treating actual patients, some hospitals are taking things to the next level by tying simulation to a newer concept: a culture of safety.

With the involvement of multiple levels of clinicians and nonclinicians in simulation centers, designed with replicated patient rooms, nurses’ stations, and physician rooms, hospitals are now using simulation training to improve patient safety through communication and teamwork.

When the 450-bed Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, NH, renovated its second floor, hospital leaders made part of it into an 8,000-square-foot simulation center. The center is equipped with six patient rooms, an ICU, mannequins, and a nurses’ station.

“People learn technical skills here, but they are also learning peer communication,” says George Blike, MD, quality and patient safety officer at DHMC and medical director at its Patient Safety Training Center. Patient safety begins with learning simple behaviors, such as how to brief and debrief, says Blike. He notes that a surgical safety checklist—something most hospitals use—is simply a way to ensure teams are briefing and debriefing. Simulation, he says, is all about enforcing these behaviors.

“That’s what shifts culture ... they’re learning how to have a [type of] behavior that is useful in every single patient encounter,” says Blike. “Hopefully, it is unleashing and moving people over time toward being more reflective practitioners.”

Editor’s note: This excerpt was adapted from the article, “Use simulation training to boost your facility’s culture of patient safety” featured in The Reading Room on HCPro’s online resource center,

Are you in need of continuing education (CE) credits? Check out this month’s CE article on addressing health literacy or visit our archives and view a compilation of CE articles (marked with an asterisk).

Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to Nurse Leader Insider!

Most Popular