Saturday, January 30, 2010

Visiting Long Island's Patient Safety Institute

Patient Safety Intitute at North Shore LIJ Health System

The Patient Safety Advisory Council held a recent meeting at the North Shore LIJ Patient Safety Institute. Participants were obviously impressed with the program developed so healthcare workers are no longer “practicing” on patients. We were given a tour of the many rooms that held patients which are actually mannequin simulators under a blanket, in a bed set up in a hospital room that was so authentic looking you can easily forget about the office building we walked into to get there.

The tour consisted of about 3 rooms with a mom and newborn baby and full sized, fully functioning adults. Kathleen Gallo, RN, PhD, MBA Senior Vice President and Chief Learning Officer North Shore-LIJ Health System and Alan Cooper, PhD, MBA gave us the tour and the history of the program. Dr. Gallo explained that they can make almost anything happen that could happen in a real hospital room as training for the many medical professionals who come through this center which is about 4 years old.

One of the scenarios, Dr. Gallo explained is that the mom could have a baby in distress, and then the dad could faint and injure himself too. Also using real live actors to go with the simulators, leaves the opportunities open for more dramatic events.

We were given a full demonstration by the staff at work with the simulators and the very important debriefing following the 15 minute demonstration. This is where staff get to talk about what happened and how they did. Did they do what they were supposed to do at the right time? How did they feel and how did it go? Alan Cooper led the debriefing.

One of the interesting parts of watching the events unfold during the simulation demonstration was that everyone cooperated. We would never know who was in charge or who got along with whom. The focus was truly on the patient and how will they, as a team gets that patient better.

We were able to ask questions about why they did some of the things they did. The patient, obviously having a heart attack was given aspirin to chew when suddenly the patient said “I can’t take aspirin, did you just give me aspirin?” With no chart available, no one could find it; they now had to watch for what the patient’s reaction may be to aspirin. Did the nurse wait too long to call for help and how would the Rapid Response Team that was called handle the situation knowing nothing about the patient?

The nurses and doctors treating the patient do not know what will happen. "The Wizard" as the person is affectionately called, behind the glass, is making the patient speak and react using controls, with no warning to the staff on the other side. When the patient lost consciousness, I felt my adrenalin respond with the fear that they were losing the patient. They were still moving at a speed with accuracy and professionalism as if choreographed for them. No one stepped on each other and no one barked orders. The patient survived - and we were left with a new appreciation for modern medicine, patient safety and the incredible training available at the Patient Safety Institute on Long Island.

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