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Practicing to Serve Patients: Simulation Prepares Memorial for Opening of New Surgery Center



Nurses, techs and physicians enter and exit rooms up and down the hall in the presurgery area. They have a full schedule today, and many patients to prepare for surgery.The patient in Room 1 forgot her medication list, which is essential information to bring on the day of surgery.

In room 3, the patient needs lab work. Has anyone called the lab yet? The telephone rings; there will be a delay for the patient in Room 4, who is already distraught about her upcoming procedure. A family member comes out of Room 7 to ask when his wife will go into surgery.While this may resemble a “typical” day in the presurgery area, these patients are not real.

They are actors, working from carefully written scripts to give the clinicians an opportunity to test their skills and workflow. When it’s time for real patients to experience Memorial Medical Center’s new Main Surgery Services unit in February, the care team will already be old pros in the new facility.

In early January, members of Memorial’s perioperative and clinical development teams conducted a clinical simulation to test patient flow and processes in the soon-to-open Main Surgical Services. Approximately 35 Memorial employees from several departments participated, including Surgery, Information Services, Simulation/Clinical Development, Admission and Testing, Environmental Services, Operations, Billing, Facilities Management and Patient Access.

“Simulation training helps increase competence and confidence in the healthcare provider’s skills, which results in safer delivery of patient care,” said Carrie Cantrall, RN, supervisor of clinical development. “It offers an opportunity to have hands-on learning without risk in a controlled, predictable and safe environment.

Simulations also test workflow in new and existing healthcare environments to check for breakdowns in the processes and potential hazards.”Thirteen simulated patients and family members went through the arrival and registration process. After the simulation was complete, the team held a debriefing session to review the event.

The simulated patients offered feedback, and participants discussed the successes and opportunities for improvement.Working with Cantrall, Becky Douglas, Memorial’s director of perioperative quality and support services, and Audra Chestnut, Memorial’s system director of simulation and clinical development, designed the Surgery Center simulation.Another simulation is being planned prior to the unit’s mid-February opening.