HealthPartners and Metropolitan State University Open First Patient Simulation Center in Minnesota; High-Tech Center to Decrease Risk to Patients in Teaching Settings

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- As patient safety is becoming a larger focus among healthcare consumers, HealthPartners and Metropolitan State University have come together to create the first patient-safety simulation center in Minnesota. There will be a grand opening for the center on April 10, 2003.

The HealthPartners Simulation Center for Patient Safety at Metropolitan State University is designed as a high-tech teaching tool to help care-givers of all types learn more about their profession, without putting patients at risk. Most teaching curriculum for healthcare providers today involves working on either healthy students or actual clinical patients. Unfortunately, this can actually put some patients at risk.

"The current model for teaching residents and nursing students isn't perfect and really doesn't provide the best model for either patients or students," said Carl Patow, MD and vice president of the HealthPartners Institute for Medical Education. "The purpose of this center is to give our health care students and professionals more practice and thus more confidence, before they start working on real people."

Using human-patient simulators, state of the art audio/visual equipment and several high-powered computers, this center will provide real-life practice for healthcare students and professionals. The center will give them the opportunity to work on their skills, observe their own mistakes and make corrections where they are needed. Through the use of audio/visual and digital recording equipment, learners will also be able to observe other individuals or teams, as they work. This will allow recording of teaching sessions that can be burned onto a CD for each user of the center. They can then take this information with them, so that they can view and learn from their experience anytime and anywhere.

"We are excited by the possibilities of this center and the opportunity to give our nursing curriculum a more sophisticated education," said Marilyn Loen, executive director of the school of nursing for Metropolitan State University. "This center guarantees our nurse practitioner students will encounter the common medical conditions in simulation before they treat real patients with these ailments. This puts our students ahead of others within the region in clinical practice setting."

Other opportunities offered at the center will be able to learn endoscopy and colonoscopy by using a virtual reality procedure simulator, much like airplane pilot simulator training. Students also will be able to work in an operating room setting, as well as an emergency room setting, both of which allow for individual and team building skills. There are also several clinical exam rooms available that will allow students to learn about electronic medical records and proper exam procedures. In addition, other simulators allow for practicing blood draws and other routine procedures.

The emergency room setting currently has an adult-patient simulator and soon will have a pediatric-patient simulator available as well. The life-like simulators resemble humans and can be programmed to mimic acute medical conditions, such as heart attack or internal bleeding.

Source: HealthPartners