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World-first simulation puts theory into practice

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

World-first simulation puts theory into practice

Some people may not know this, but Mater has a world-class simulation facility and associated team.

With our Mater Private Hospital Springfield due to open in October, the Springfield Project Team started work very early with the Mater Education Simulation Team to assess how we could use simulation to support the opening and ongoing operation of the new hospital. 

The simulations were planned to fit in with our broader orientation and training program. We also decided to take the opportunity to run a world-first 24/7 simulation with fully-embedded live simulated patients, operating our whole hospital in a mock environment to train our team and test all our processes prior to making the decision that we were ready to open and care for our first patient.

Simulation is about putting theory into practice—think of it as replacing or amplifying real hospital experiences with guided experiences, similar to what airline pilots go through in flight simulators—just in a healthcare environment. It is used for testing processes, as well as for training and team building. 

The design of our simulation program was intended to achieve all of these objectives, but most importantly to help us in assessing our ability to ensure the highest level of patient safety. Each simulation was followed by a full report to identify any potential issues observed by the simulation team. If identified, our operational team plan required actions to address all issues on a priority basis. 

Our 24/7 simulation was challenging, but also an exciting experience for all involved. The team were quite nervous about it initially, as they were unsure about how hard it might be. The nature of a simulation such as this, is that we staged all shifts—morning, afternoon and evening—to check the teams and processes at different times of day (including handover between the shifts). It also allowed us to present many scenarios for the teams to manage…for example a patient deteriorating and needing to be taken to an ICU at a different facility, and managing a deceased patient in a sensitive and appropriate manner.

The team responded really well. It was amazing to watch their confidence build as the day progressed, and they became more comfortable with the process. Our volunteers who were acting as our simulated patients were also fantastic. They had been trained in advance as to all the symptoms and responses they needed to give dependent on how our team treated them—and some of them really deserved Oscars on the basis of their performance! 

Queensland Ambulance Service joined us and simulated picking up and transferring a patient to Mater’s Emergency Department and ICU at South Brisbane. We also had some of our doctors get involved and help manage code blues (where a patient requires resuscitation).

At the end of the day, all team members and people involved with the simulations were surveyed to tell us whether they were confident in their roles and in our ability as a facility to open safely. They were able to detail their concerns based on real experiences and we were able to then really target our responses. The simulation report was presented to our Steering Committee and helped us to make our ‘go/no go’ decision. I’m happy to report that we received a 100 per cent ‘go’ from our team, which further highlighted the use and effectiveness of the simulation.

The simulation had added benefits which extended beyond our team. The Mater Education Simulation Team saw the realisation of their vision of undertaking a 24/7 simulation with embedded simulated patients. They were followed around with cameras (including a visit from local media in the middle of the day) to help capture the process and inform research reports on the process and outcomes that will hopefully be used to extend the practice of simulation internationally, as well as what we do on an ongoing basis at Mater.

Thank you to the Mater Education Simulation Team, all our volunteers, Queensland Ambulance Service, our doctors, and most importantly, the Springfield team. Their determination to tackle this somewhat confronting process with a positive learning-focussed attitude ensures we have a safe and efficiently operating healthcare facility.

Fritha Mackay, Director, Mater Springfield

Posted: 27/10/2015 3:33:04 PM by News @ Mater | with 2 comments

Tags: Mater Education, Mater Private Hospital Springfield, simulation