August 17, 2021By Lance Baily

Escaping Sepsis: Free VR Nursing Simulation Escape Room Game

Hosted on the SideQuest platform, a free Oculus Quest VR headset application resource, the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Nursing-Lincoln has sponsored a free nursing escape room scenario called “Nurse’s Escape.” This is a virtual reality serious game that simulates an escape room based on the components of the Sepsis Bundle. This escape room scenario was designed to supplement a nursing lecture-style curriculum with an interactive way to assess learners’ sepsis knowledge.

Sepsis is one of the leading causes of deaths and hospitalizations yearly, nurses must be equipped with the proper skills and knowledge to treat this infection in a timely manner. In this particular scenario, learners are tasked with diagnosing and treating a millionaire who has developed sepsis before the allotted time runs out. By engaging in this serious game, learners will become better prepared to diagnose and treat a similar real-life scenario in the field.

The game was created by a teams from UNMC and UNL. Dr Sue Schuelke, along with Dr. Janet Nieveen, whose specialty is pathophysiology, Dr. Libby Mollard, who teaches pharmacology and Enterprise AV Technologist III, Tess McKinney, all from UNMC, partnered with a team of design students from the College of Computer Science and Engineering.

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“We wanted to make [this escape room game] an immersive learning experience. Gaming and [tools] like escape rooms have been proven strategies in engagement and critical thinking. We chose sepsis because it is one of the leading causes of death in hospitals,”explained Sue Schuelke, an assistant professor at UNMC. “Somebody dies from sepsis in the U.S. about every two minutes, and the mortality rate goes up every hour that we delay treatment with sepsis. It’s really important that nurses have a solid foundation on the sepsis bundle.”

She added that the American Association of Critical Care Nurses has reviewed this escape room game, and now houses the resource on the organization’s website as a CEU. To continue improving the effectiveness of the game, both Schuelke and McKinney have recently been taking a class in unity and have all the coding for the programs. According to Schuelke, if the two can go in and improve on the game, they plan on doing that.

This thinking is supported by the article published in the U.S. National Library on Medicine titled, “A Validation Argument for a Simulation-based Training Course centered on Assessment, Recognition and Early Management of Pediatric Sepsis” (Geis et al.). As early recognition of sepsis remains one of the greatest challenges in medicine, the authors of this study sought to create a validity argument for the use of a simulation-based training course centered on assessment, recognition and early management of sepsis in a lab-based setting.

To prove this notion, researchers developed five unique simulation scenarios to integrate critical sepsis cues identified through qualitative interviewing. Their analysis compared recognition of sepsis by levels of expertise and measured association of sepsis recognition with the secondary outcomes.

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Ultimately, they found that in simulated cases, physicians who adhere closely to pediatric advanced life support (PALS) guidelines were more likely to recognize sepsis, and recognition was associated with increased compliance with early sepsis management principles. Based on these findings, clinical simulation training, which may include scenarios expressed by escape room serious games, can help ensure professionals are equipped with the skills to better ensure patient safety.

What is an Escape Room?

An escape room, aka an escape game (a type of serious game), is a fun event in which a team of players cooperatively discover clues, solve puzzles and accomplish tasks in one or more rooms in order to progress and accomplish a specific goal in a limited amount of time. The goal is often to escape from the site of the game.

Escape rooms became popular in North America, Europe and East Asia in the 2010s. Rooms look (or simulate) a time and place from the old West to the future of space, and clues come together to solve the puzzles and unlock the door (which is never really locked in case of real emergency).

Check out this Downloadable Sepsis Escape Room Scenario from Nichole Holte BS, RN, CHSE and her colleagues at Essentia Health, Fargo, ND.

More About Serious Games

A “serious game,” also known as an applied game, is a computer-based program that is designed for both entertainment and learning purposes, by simulating real-world scenarios. These applied games are often applicable across healthcare simulation education and training, with the learning tools able to accurately convey how a procedure or skill is meant to be performed in the field. By combining elements of entertainment with healthcare simulation, learners are able to master these skills in an environment that is engaging, risk-free and promotes patient safety.

Research has proven that video games improve performance of surgeons, and that they are a practical method for healthcare simulation training. They also allow learners to make their own decisions and begin to understand what is happening at each point during a serious game’s progression. As such, serious games enhance healthcare simulation training benefits by combining academic lessons with repetitive practice.

Therefore, applied games help generate learning outcomes that increase content retention and comprehension, leading to long-term success across clinical settings. As decision-making processes are reinforced, learners are able to go on to become confident professionals and practitioners.

Serious games can further help learners to strengthen their problem-solving skills, adding to their overall professional development. These games are capable of being adapted to meet a variety of healthcare simulation training needs, from diagnosis to surgery. Applied games are helping to train learners in a new and engaging way. In addition, they can generally be played at any time and from anywhere remotely. This real-time cognitive game-based medical simulation education allows healthcare learners to complete coursework on their own time and at their own pace.

More About UNMC

The UNMC College of Nursing is the largest and most far-reaching of UNMC’s six health colleges, and has a major presence and impact in all areas of Nebraska — and we influence the practice of nursing nationwide. UNMC is a leader in advanced, student-centered learning technologies and interdisciplinary learning. Despite a difficult economy, thanks to abundant donor vision and generosity, the UNMC College of Nursing is solving the nursing shortage with a building boom unrivaled in the College’s nine-decade history.

Install UNMC’s Escape Room Game

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