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January 2008 Issue

Shelley Post performs CPR on a human patient simulator during a pediatric advanced life support course at Cincinnati Children’s Center for Simulation and Research.
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New Health Training Center Emphasizes Learning From Mistakes Before They Actually Count

Published January 2008

The young man on the table is no longer talking. When was his last meal? What medications should they use to treat him?

The medical team works together to come up with answers. One person is calling out orders. The others march in step. They need to open his airway. But what if his stomach is full?

It is. And boy, does he get sick. But there’s nothing to clean up. That’s because the young man is a human patient simulator and the medical team is using him to train for real life.

A new collaboration involving a host of Cincinnati health care providers will make sophisticated medical simulation training more accessible.

The Cincinnati Regional Partnership for Simulation in Healthcare (CinSIM) aligns hospital groups, pediatric experts, health educators and the Air Force to form a regional simulation center.

Mary Patterson, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at UC and medical director of the Center for Simulation and Research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and Jim Phero, DMD, professor of anesthesiology at UC, are leading the charge to create the regional center.

“Simulation has evolved as a premier way to test the abilities of residents and other health care providers,” says Phero, who serves as the CinSIM operations council cochair.

“Through human patient simulators programmed with high-tech algorithms to talk, breathe and experience a number of medical problems, trainees gain experience working together in lifelike, high-stress situations.”

William Hurford, MD, chair of anesthesiology at UC and founder of CinSIM, says that although simulation training is “fake,” the terror created by the situation seems real.

“Mistakes in outpatient clinics can usually be corrected,” says Hurford. “In the operating room they aren’t that easy to correct and can result in serious consequences. Simulation lets us learn from mistakes when they don’t count.

“And simulation courses can provide an invaluable education tool leading to better communications among health care workers and improved outcomes and safety for patients,” he adds.

Benefits aside, simulation technology is expensive and finding people qualified to design relevant courses is tough.

Cincinnati Children’s already operates a simulation center for pediatric health care providers. The facility, located on the hospital’s Oak Street campus, began with one simulation room and one classroom for all training programs.

Recently expanded, the 13,700 square-foot facility—which will house CinSIM—boasts six patient rooms, three operating suites, one room designed for simulating heart-lung bypass procedures, three debriefing rooms and a large classroom for group training.

The new facility is designed to meet the growing needs of Cincinnati Children’s and enable community and university health care providers to take advantage of the center’s high-tech tools and expertise.

Hurford, president of CinSIM’s operations board, will begin sending his resident physicians to CinSIM this year to complete courses in airway and crisis management. With very few ways to teach high-risk, high-stress situations other than by doing, he foresees other departments following suit.

Tom LeMaster is director of operations for Cincinnati Children’s Center for Simulation and Research and a member of the CinSIM operations council. He has watched the Oak Street building’s transformation into the new simulation center and is particularly excited about the technology installed to run the site’s many patient simulators.

“Physicians like Dr. Hurford can log in to our system through the computer in his office and watch as residents perform simulation exercises,” LeMaster says. “We’re the first in the area to have this audiovisual technology.”

Cincinnati Children’s has provided the capital to support the simulation facility, and continued operating costs will come from partner institutions, donors, grants and facility usage fees.

CinSIM does not replace the simulation capabilities offered to students through UC’s Clinical Skills Lab. Medical students will still do their simulation training within the college, but can look forward to using CinSIM if they’re matched to a Cincinnati-area residency program once they graduate.

Partnering in CinSIM’s operations council are representatives from UC’s colleges of allied health sciences, medicine and nursing, Clermont College, UC Physicians, Cincinnati Children’s, Cincinnati Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the Department of Defense’s Air Force Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills, the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati, Mercy Healthcare Partners, Shriners Hospital for Children–

Cincinnati and TriHealth. 


Cincinnati’s simulation center is just one example of how UC is teaming with other health care providers to improve care in the region. Look for more examples of high-impact partnerships in future issues of Findings.

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