Stanford Medicine Newsletter Updates For the Local Community

Simulation center creates real-life medical scenarios

Fall 2007

Play eases the anxiety of Bernard Dannenberg's young patient.

Medical resident Aria Barzin, MD, practices surgical techniques in the simulation center.

When airline pilots experience severe wind shear conditions for the first time, it’s not aboard a jumbo jet filled with hundreds of passengers, but in a simulator, where their mistakes won’t cost lives. If they crash the plane, they just hit the reset button and take off again.

Those same principles of aviation safety education are being used to train a new generation of surgeons at the Goodman Simulation Center at Stanford Hospital, which opened in May of this year.

“The Goodman Simulation Center is a natural evolution of how we train medical professionals,” said Thomas M. Krummel, MD, chair of the Department of Surgery at Stanford. “In the current learning environment, education happens by random opportunity. With the Simulation Center, Stanford can build a curriculum and an experience without being dependent on which patients come through the doors of the hospital.”

The $4 million facility is located on the third floor of Stanford Hospital, across the hall from the real operating room suites. Inside are a myriad of virtual reality mannequins and boxes that allow interns and residents from Stanford and Lucile Packard Children’s hospitals to develop and refine their core surgical skills, such as suturing, knot tying, guiding laparoscopic instruments and inserting central lines.

In an adjacent room lies the hub of team training activities—an exact replica of an OR suite, complete with a mannequin that breathes, bleeds and can be programmed to reflect any number of surgical complications. In this area, medical students and new interns can experience surgical situations for the first time in an environment that looks, sounds and feels amazingly real. The simulation room can also be used to train residents and attending physicians on new or advanced surgical procedures, rare complicating factors, or disaster scenarios.

“The immersive experience found in the Simulation Center is an emotionally rich education experience,” Krummel said. “It allows us to develop core skills in a safe environment so that when students are in the OR, they can refine their abilities and make the most of the precious experience of taking care of a human being.”

In addition to providing a place for practicing surgical skills, the Goodman Center is being used by health care professionals in both the adult and children’s hospitals to improve decision-making skills in crisis situations. The operating room can be made to look like the emergency room bay, with two beds, two mannequins and trauma situations scripted by Stanford’s ER physicians. It can also be made to resemble an ICU room or a patient room on the floor.

“The goal is to have multidisciplinary groups of physicians, nurses and allied health professionals use the center for team training and to improve communication skills in critical situations,” said Sandra Feaster, RN, MS, MBA, the center’s program director.

Housing the Goodman Center on the surgical floor of the hospital is part of its ultimate goal. Krummel sees the center as a place where residents and attending surgeons can practice surgical maneuvers before heading into the OR, much as a pianist would play scales before a concert.

“By using simulation as a way to warm up or rehearse, it becomes the ultimate safety and quality component for the hospital,” said Krummel. “Stanford is inventing the future of patient safety and quality, and the Goodman Center is part of that larger movement.”

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