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Memorial Medical Center, SIU School of Medicine Participate in Simulation Following Critically Ill Patient from Home to ICU


More than 50 people from Memorial Medical Center and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine participated in a complex simulation exercise that followed a critically ill patient from the moment he called for help in his home until he was wheeled into an intensive care unit.

The live simulation was the "first time that a simulation of this complexity has been attempted," said Dr. Sapan Desai, medical director of the surgical skills lab in the Memorial Center for Learning and Innovation as well as vice chair of research with the department of surgery with SIU School of Medicine. "This realistic simulation will teach us a great deal about all of the things we do right in health care – and highlight areas where we can continue to improve."

Over the last six months, the Midwest Healthcare Quality Alliance, a partnership between Memorial and SIU to develop innovative solutions for improving healthcare, has been developing a virtual reality model of the simulation, said Todd Roberts, administrator of quality and safety for Memorial Health System. That model was put to the test on Dec. 17 when the live simulation was held on the third-floor Simulation Center in the Memorial Center for Learning and Innovation.

The people involved in the simulation included health care providers, administrators, quality improvement experts, educators, support personnel and two paramedics and firefighters with the Chatham Fire Protection District. Local actor John Petter launched the demonstration, playing a patient who suffered from an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

The aorta is the main blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The lower part of the aorta, near the stomach and intestines, can sometimes become weakened and expand like a garden hose with a bulge in it. If this bulge – or aneurysm – bursts, people face a life-threatening emergency. Time is critical to save their lives.

The exercise followed the patient’s progress through the health care system, beginning with the arrival of paramedics from the Chatham Fire Protection District. From there, he was treated in several simulated environments, including an ambulance, an emergency room, an operating room and an intensive care unit. In the operating room, the actor was swapped out with a mannequin designed for surgical procedures.

This is the first of what is expected to be several simulations. Memorial and SIU are applying for federal grants to continue funding this research.