CLEVELAND - Everyone expects the best of care when they are in the hospital. One way local doctors are perfecting patient care is through fake or simulated patients.
These simulated patients are controlled by a computer. The goal is to teach doctors, nurses and residents everything they need to know to help anyone in a serious medical situation. They use this program to train the staff whether they are in the hospital or in the operating room.
For example, " SimMan" or " SimBaby" can talk, wheeze, cry and even “bleed.”
Experts use distilled water mixed with red food coloring to simulate a patient who has an uncontrollable bleed. These " Sim-patients" can also go all the way to the other side of the spectrum and - urinate - Mountain Dew helps make that happen. And if a doctor or nurse is looking for a heartbeat, using traditional patient care, nurses can feel the " Sim-patients" wrist with their finger and find a pulse. These " Sim-patients" are so real, they even blink and talk.
The Cleveland Clinic's, Dr. Eric Jelovsek, said "Studies show that actually training on these simulators translates to improved patient care as far as speed, process, knowledge. That type of training together, as a group, which has been missed is now improving morbidity and mortality."
During a demonstration, nurses and doctors showed NewsChannel 5 a situation where a mother was visiting her sick son in the hospital. Suddenly, he stopped breathing.
The team knew right away CPR was needed and also a defibrillator. Then, when they realized they needed to do more, they started an IV and gave him life-saving medications. It took about 10 minutes before the "SimBoy" was stabilized and transferred to the ICU.
A computer controlled by a nurse makes "Sim-patient’s" condition, speech and vital signs go into action. This particular scenario with the young boy also included some surprises to catch the nurses and doctors off guard. But that's the whole idea. Even a surprise or two to make his condition a little harder to deal with didn't stop them from working fast. The action was still moving to the "SimBoy" alive.
Clinic doctors said, "These technologically sophisticated mannequins, robots with 3-D vision, and computers help them actually “feel” are part of the cutting-edge technology that Cleveland Clinic uses to train its medical staff so they are more prepared when they are dealing with real patients."
The clinic administrators who run the programs using simulated patients said, “This is a safe place for nurses, for doctors and respiratory therapists to develop critical thinking and judgment. This is the future.”
Trainers also said, “Physicians down the road will have to have so many hours of simulation to maintain their license, their certification. I’m sure the same thing will happen for nursing, as well.”
The software that's included for practicing techniques is inserting IVs, giving a shot, and all it takes is students clicking and dragging a mouse to select the equipment (tourniquet, gloves, dressing) and procedures (washing hands, turning the arm this way or that).
Then, they get a grade on how well they did from the computer. They also get feedback on if they made the right choices in the right order with the "Sim-patient."
The Cleveland Clinic administrators said they know this kind of patient practice will lead to the best care possible for the "real" patients that come to them in any situation.
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