February 4, 2021By Lance Baily

Oxford Medical Simulation Pushes for Pain-Free Maternity Simulations

Obstetric simulation allows educators to provide experiential learning, that can make up for missed clinical opportunities and ultimately improve patient safety. Oxford Medical Simulation (OMS) has therefore released a brand new library of virtual obstetric scenarios. Available in immersive virtual reality and on screen, OMS delivers obstetric simulation without the pain – so no epidural is necessary!

OMS’s VR platform allows learners to fully assess virtual patients, like Patricia, through history, examination, vitals and investigations. The case must be managed efficiently, effectively and sensitively, and involves collaboration with the interdisciplinary team throughout. The comprehensive scenarios focus on holistic, patient-centered care, including:

  • Caring for the “invisible patient” through fetal monitoring and assessment
  • Dynamic EFM for strip review
  • Delivering medication in pregnancy
  • Condition-specific issues, such as exploring risks around preeclampsia and markers of deterioration
  • Exploration of potential next steps, depending on both maternal and fetal condition

Not only do the immersive scenarios deliver an incredibly realistic virtual clinical simulation experience, but these clinical experiences are repeatable, allowing learners to improve their level of proficiency over time. They are designed to scaffold learning for all levels of nursing, and can be used with or without faculty – allowing flexibility in delivery to meet specific educational needs.

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The first maternity scenarios are available now, covering the common and life-threatening issues around maternal care. Initial scenarios include preeclampsia, postpartum hemorrhage, and sepsis, with many more scenarios coming throughout spring 2021.

“Obstetric simulation is great but the obstacles can seem to outweigh the opportunities when adding traditional simulation to your curriculum” says Rebecca Wheeler, MSW, MSN, APRN, WHNP-BC, EFM-C, an Educational Specialist at OMS. “Maternity manikins are expensive, require special technical knowledge and can be challenging to maintain. Then there’s what you need on the day – from creating artificial blood to properly lubricating the fetus, the high staffing requirement for mother and baby, and cleaning up the fluid that goes everywhere!”

In delivering simulation using VR, OMS helps avoid these obstacles. From patient artificial intelligence, adaptive conversation, dynamic mother and baby physiology, and virtual fluids only – the OMS VR system takes the pain out of obstetric simulation. Educators can then focus on instruction, support and debrief, rather than trying to keep the manikin in check.

The flexibility, unlimited repeatability and ease of use of OMS relative to traditional mannikins also allows educators to scale their simulation delivery to more learners at reduced cost – vital in the ongoing battle to deliver quality maternal simulation.

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Benefits of Maternity Simulation

“The importance of obstetric simulation cannot be over-emphasised,” says Dr Jack Pottle, founder and Chief Medical Officer at OMS. “Maternal mortality still impacts a high number of women, with astonishing inequalities in health outcomes”.

In 2017, 295,000 women worldwide died from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. That is a staggering 810 women per day. In the United States, maternal mortality is 14:100,000; and in the United Kingdom, 7:100,000.1 Shockingly, maternal mortality among Black women is more than double that of white women in the United States, and five times greater in the United Kingdom.2

Additionally, an increasing number of women with high-risk conditions with inherent risks of complications, as well as institutional policies, limit opportunities for nursing learners to gain hands-on training in maternal care. Yet all nursing students, including LPNs and RNs, must prove Maternal-Child Health (MCH) and Obstetric competency on their National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Governing bodies, such as JCAHO, are also seeking to decrease maternal mortality with compliance directives.

Hospitals will be required to increase staff education and emphasize hemorrhage, hypertension and preeclampsia (PPH and PreE). According to US News, the Joint Commission, a private organization that sets safety standards for hospitals, announced it will adopt 13 new hospital requirements in an effort to reduce postpartum hemorrhage and severe hypertension and preeclampsia – some of the top causes of maternal death. The initiative is so important, hospitals that fail to comply with the new directives risk losing their accreditation status through the Joint Commission3.

As part of the directive, hospitals will increase maternal education and conduct annual drills with as many care team members as possible. All will become standard procedure to identify and improve quality issues (in addition to any hospital system requirements already in place). The standards developed by the Joint Commission are based on recommendations from AIM, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative.

As sobering as these figures are, the most impactful is that an estimated 60% of maternal deaths remain preventable.4 Simply put, this is why healthcare simulation labs choose to endure the agony of maternity simulation, and that is why OMS is proud to release their latest library – joining the fight to improve maternal outcomes worldwide.

More About Oxford Medical Simulation

Oxford Medical Simulation (OMS) delivers quality, evidence-based, highly-realistic healthcare simulation using virtual reality. The company, headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, helps hundreds of colleges, universities, and healthcare institutions deliver clinical education efficiently and effectively.

The obstetric library is the latest addition to a wide range of healthcare simulation content across nursing and medicine. Scenarios span adult, pediatric, mental health, ACLS and interprofessional libraries – ensuring educators can deliver consistently excellent simulation and help to optimize global patient care.


  1. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternal-mortality/pregnancy-mortality-surveillance-system.htm
  2. https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-health-mothers/uk-tackles-higher-maternal-mortality-rates-for-black-mothers-idUSKBN25T1KM
  3. https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2019-08-29/new-safety-standards-aim-to-improve-the-quality-of-hospital-maternal-care
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/maternal-deaths/index.html#:~:text=Every%20pregnancy%2Drelated%20death%20is,a%20year%20afterward%20(postpartum)

Learn More About OMS

Today’s article was guest authored by Elizabeth Antaloczy of Oxford Medical Simulation.

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