Click the photo to watch a Carolina Week report on the growing trend of simulation training.

Leveraging simulation to improve patient safety

A recent Carolina Week feature highlights how UNC Children's is leveraging simulation training and Team STEPPS to improve care team communications and help prevent medical errors.

Leveraging simulation to improve patient safety click to enlarge The pediatric sedation team works on "Cindy," a simulated patient. Click to enlarge.

Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., leading to an estimated 400,000 deaths each year. This feature from Carolina Week highlights UNC Children's use of simulation training to improve communication between members of the care team and reduce the risk of error.

Gene Hobbs knows first hand the dire consequences of hospital medical errors. His firstborn, a son named Andrew, was born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia in 2009. After a communication breakdown led to him being treated on the wrong unit, the infant died of kidney failure. He was just 30 days old. Since then, Hobbs has dedicated his career to making health care safer for patients. He is now the associate director of simulation training at UNC Hospitals, leading medical teams through UNC TeamSTEPPS™ and training using simulation manikins.

Members of the pediatric sedation team demonstrated a training scenario for Carolina Week using "Cindy," a simulated patient undergoing an asthma attack. Michele Kimmel, a nurse involved in the simulation, explains that the team uses "CUS" words, an acronym for "I am Concerned, I am Uncomfortable, and I feel it is a Safety issue." No one moves forward with the medical intervention until it is cleared by all members of the team.

As Benny Joyner, MD, clinical co-director of UNC's Clinical Skills and Patient Simulation Center, notes that the method requires a significant attitude and cultural shift as caregivers take a more inclusive approach and modify their techniques and procedures, but the hands-on practice enhances teamwork and patient safety.

"As a team, we all know what to do, but it's how to engage as a team to make it happen that's really the key thing to improving patient safety and outcomes," says Joyner. 

Watch the Carolina Week report >>