IHI Discusses 3 Myths About Healthcare Simulation

Today the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), which also runs the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF), interviewed IHI Project Director Allison Perry on the value of improving patient safety through medical simulation. She shared 3 myths about developing healthcare simulation programs for those considering the use of the methodology to improve patient safety outcomes. We have shared a few snippets with the full myths debunked through the link below! Does your healthcare simulation program meet with a Patient Safety Officer? Leave us a comment below and share how!

Myth #1 — It’s only for running drills or task training

It’s true that simulation can provide excellent opportunities to practice technical skills, like central line insertion or managing complications like shoulder dystocia during childbirth. Teams can also use it to practice the kinds of skills that we know matter to patient safety, like communication and teamwork. We’ve shown people how to use simulation to practice using TeamSTEPPS, for example. At this past year’s IHI Patient Safety Congress, we had a pre-conference session in which we demonstrated simulation strategies that could lead their organization along a journey to becoming a high-reliability organization.


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Myth #2 — Simulation requires expensive equipment

When I first started doing simulation, I thought you needed the latest and greatest equipment. Over the years, I’ve learned that you don’t need much to run a compelling and educational simulation. There are creative and inexpensive ways to use simulation for learning. A lot of organizations, for example, will set up what they call a “Room of Errors” during Patient Safety Awareness Week. They’ll set up a room, sometimes with a mannequin, and the goal when you walk into the room is to identify the patient safety error or potential error. Some may be easy to identify, but some are harder to find. There might be a syringe under the bed or a dirty glove left behind. The patient chart in the room might list an allergy, but also an order for that same medication. The possibilities are endless.

Myth #3 — Only certain professionals can benefit from using simulation

Beyond the individual level, any organization could learn from using simulation to practice responding to workplace violence or disaster preparedness. A few years ago, we saw many teams using simulation during the Ebola outbreak. That was great, but wouldn’t it be even better if everybody had the chance to practice their protocols prior to an outbreak, flood, forest fire, hurricane, or other natural disaster? Even a larger than normal number of flu cases can be overwhelming if you’re not prepared.


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How can Healthcare simulation programs and patient safety teams combine their efforts to improve patient care?

Allison answers “It surprised me when I first learned that safety and simulation collaborations are not that common. Anecdotally, however, I’m now seeing more simulation teams being approached to help with improvement projects. “We need to improve our code team response. Can you help us run a simulation?” But they mostly seem to be one-offs. It’s a good first step, but often the improvement teams aren’t aware of all that simulation can do, and the simulation folks don’t fully recognize how much they can help improve patient safety. My advice is to have a cup of coffee with your counterpart. Find out what their goals are. Tell them about your goals. Everybody is trying to do what they’re tasked to do, and there is competition for resources, but you might find you have some common ground.”

About the IHI

For more than 25 years, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) has used improvement science to advance and sustain better outcomes in health and health care across the world. They bring awareness of safety and quality to millions, accelerate learning and the systematic improvement of care, develop solutions to previously intractable challenges, and mobilize health systems, communities, regions, and nations to reduce harm and deaths. They work in collaboration with the growing IHI community to spark bold, inventive ways to improve the health of individuals and populations. They generate optimism, harvest fresh ideas, and support anyone, anywhere who wants to profoundly change health and health care for the better.

Read the Full Interview on IHI’s Website Here!


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