Monday, April 4, 2011


There is increasing interest in the benefits of simulation to ensure improved outcomes in healthcare. A piece in the Economist piqued my interest in this area. They describe a story I had never heard before, involving the role of former US President Jimmy Carter in dealing with a reactor meltdown in Canada in 1952. Carter led a 23 man team to disassemble a reactor near Ottawa that partially melted down. Such was the radiation exposure that each person was limited to 90 seconds at the core. To ensure that the process went as smoothly as possible in such adverse conditions,
"The team built an exact replica of the reactor on a nearby tennis court, and had cameras monitor the actual damage in the reactor's core. "When it was our time to work, a team of three of us practised several times on the mock-up, to be sure we had the correct tools and knew exactly how to use them. Finally, outfitted with white protective clothes, we descended into the reactor and worked frantically for our allotted time," he wrote. "Each time our men managed to remove a bolt or fitting from the core, the equivalent piece was removed on the mock-up."
The take home message is no surprise, simulation to be successful must be as realistic as possible, with real time feedback. A paper published in January in PCCM reports that with increasing use of simulation of cardiac arrest in a children's hospital, survival post cardiac arrest increased to 50%, substantially above the national average.

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