Auburn Hospital

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Human Patient Simulator Provides Hands-On Training at ACH

Posted on: 07/22/2013




Human Patient Simulator Provides Hands-On Training at ACH


“Pat,” a male patient at Auburn Community Hospital (ACH), waited quietly while six nurses surrounded his bed.  Pat had just had a procedure in the Operating Room and the nurses’ job was to monitor him through the recovery process. They began by checking his vital signs (heart rate, oxygen saturation in the blood, blood pressure, and respiratory rate) and talking to him about how he was feeling.  Things looked fine until, without warning, his respiratory rate began to drop.  The nurses, recognizing the danger of respiratory depression, called for a rapid response team, and administered Norcan, a drug which usually reverses respiratory depression.


Despite the Norcan, however, Pat went into cardiac arrest.  The nurses immediately started chest compressions and called a Code Blue. Quick response saved Pat’s life by using an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator.) 


Pat, however was never actually in danger of dying, because he was not alive!  Pat is a SimMan ® Human Patient Simulator, now being used at Auburn Community Hospital to train nurses and other staff.  He is remarkably realistic, breathing and blinking his eyes as he lies in bed, coughing, and speaking (through a microphone connection to the Nurse Educator in the next room),  He can mimic actual patient symptoms. And he also has the uncanny ability to become a woman for some specific scenarios. 


Through simulation, healthcare professionals are being taught how to manage emergency situations. They are able to repetitively practice a variety of techniques and procedures to sharpen clinical and decision-making skills, while fostering an environment of teamwork and effective communication.  The training is conducted in a safe learning environment where participants have the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them.  As they carry out an emergency scenario, the trainees are videotaped, and this is followed by a debriefing session where they can watch and evaluate themselves with the help of a Nurse Educator.


“The nurses love Pat,” said Pamela Seamans, RN, Staff Education Coordinator at ACH.  “He gives us the opportunity to train them in situations you don’t want them to learn on the floor, with an actual patient at risk.  There are a variety of situations which are uncommon – high risk, low volume situations that nurses need to be prepared for. With the simulator, they can learn in a controlled environment.  For example, they might not have to use an AED very often, but with the simulator they can open it, turn it on, get their hands on it – so they are ready if and when they do need to use it to save a patient’s life.”


Amy Bunn, RN, Staff Educator, added, “The simulator is a great tool.  You can learn by doing.  Instead of having nurses in  training tell us what they would do in a given situation, we can actually watch them do it, in real time. They improve not just their nursing skills, but their ability to think critically.”


The simulator and training were provided by CHART Risk Retention Group (CHART), a medical malpractice liability insurer.  “Our number one priority is to improve patient safety and care with simulation,” said Melissa Wanker, CHART’s simulation training program manager.  “The simulators provide an opportunity for clinicians to reenact ‘near misses’ or rehearse adverse clinical outcomes, which prepares them for those rare but critical situations.”  The intent is that clinicians will transfer skills from the simulation laboratory to the bedside.


ACH received the equipment from CHART without charge, with the proviso that the hospital carry out 8 hours of training per month.  “It’s no problem to meet that goal,” said Seamans with a laugh.  “We are doing at least 12 hours per month.”  All ACH nurses, from all three shifts, have taken training on the equipment at least once, she said, and the training sessions will continue, using different scenarios.  The training is mandatory for all clinical staff, with each month designated for a different nursing unit.  In addition to nurses, respiratory therapists and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) professionals are being trained.  


For each training session, a camera in the corner of the room allows the Nurse Educator in the next room to watch and hear (through headphones) what the nurses are doing and saying. The nurses may be called on to catheterize “Pat,” intubate him, or give him IV fluids and medications, and he will get better or worse depending on whether the treatment is correct. 


“Having this equipment will have a positive effect on patient safety at ACH,” said Seamans.  “By doing this training we are being proactive, training nurses ahead of time for situations they may encounter under emergency conditions.  I can honestly say this is a dream come true for the Nursing Education department and for the hospital.”





For more information:

Thomas Filiak, MA, BSMT (ASCP)

VP of Administration






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