During the past 10 to 15 years, many steps have been taken to reduce medical errors. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine published “To Err is Human,” an article about this staggering problem in healthcare. The article suggested that Congress create a Center for Patient Safety to track, monitor, and address National Patient Safety goals. This was done, and much progress has been made; but the numbers continued to be troubling.
In 2009 the Chief Medical Officer of England cited disturbing statistics in his annual report: “When you step on a plane, your chance of dying in a plane crash is one in 10 million. When admitted into a hospital, your chance of dying or being seriously harmed by a medical error is one in 300.” One of his recommendations states, “Simulation training in all its forms will be a vital part of building a safer healthcare system.”
When did healthcare begin to incorporate simulation into education? The beginning dates back to 1960 with the introduction of the Resusci-Anne manikin for CPR training. Students at that time remember shaking the manikin’s shoulders and shouting, “Annie, Annie, are you OK?” For many years, Annie remained silent and motionless, never giving a response. Now, times have changed!
Today healthcare education has computerized human patient simulators (HPS) that can talk (or cry, depending on their age), can display numerous heart rhythms on a cardiac monitor, and have pulses in their arms, legs, neck, and groin. Some simulators even have pulses behind the knee and can display cyanosis (a blue color around the mouth or on the fingertips) that indicates a problem with oxygenation. Students can perform a head-to-toe assessment that includes taking blood pressure and listening to lung, heart, and bowel sounds. In addition, there is one HPS that will go through the stages of labor and delivery of a baby.
FTCC purchased its first high-fidelity adult HPS in 2005 and currently has a total of six. In 2009, FTCC received a grant to bring together a task force of instructors from the nursing, EMS, CNA, respiratory, and dental programs to design and implement a way to more fully incorporate simulation technology into the curriculums. In April 2010, one lab area in the Health Technology building exists, exclusively devoted to simulation training. In November, a full-time position was added to coordinate the lab.
Many FTCC health students come to the simulation lab regularly as part of their training. Scenarios can be chosen to meet specific learning objectives related to their current class content, such as diabetes or asthma. Unlike clinical settings where instructors must hover closely and supervise every step, simulation lab students can be left alone to think through situations for themselves. If the student chooses a correct course of action in a timely manner, the vital signs and other indicators on the HPS will improve. Conversely, if the student makes a mistake, the conditions of the HPS can worsen and a simulated death can result. All this training takes place with no risk to any patients. It is clear to both students and faculty that teaching with simulation is one of the most exciting advancements in healthcare education.