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posted: 3/11/2013 6:00 AM

Realistic robots put medical staff to the test

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  • Lt. j.g. Shannon Posey goes through a cardiac-arrest simulation on a patient simulator at the Naval Hospital Bremerton in Bremerton, Wash.

      Lt. j.g. Shannon Posey goes through a cardiac-arrest simulation on a patient simulator at the Naval Hospital Bremerton in Bremerton, Wash.
    SHNS photo

  • Lt. Patty Butler works with the patient simulator named "Anne" as she goes over an OB-GYN scenario during a nurse orientation at Naval Hospital Bremerton in Bremerton, Wash.

      Lt. Patty Butler works with the patient simulator named "Anne" as she goes over an OB-GYN scenario during a nurse orientation at Naval Hospital Bremerton in Bremerton, Wash.
    SHNS photo

  • Simulator operator Doug Jones, left, and Corpsman 2nd Class Blake Hite, right, get a pair of patient simulators ready for students at the Naval Hospital Bremerton.

      Simulator operator Doug Jones, left, and Corpsman 2nd Class Blake Hite, right, get a pair of patient simulators ready for students at the Naval Hospital Bremerton.
    SHNS photo

 
By Ed Friedrich
Scripps Howard News Service

BREMERTON, Wash. -- Doctors, nurses and corpsmen at the Naval Hospital Bremerton here stay sharp by working on dummies.

The hospital's 2-year-old simulation lab recently got three of the most advanced mannequins available, increasing its population to eight. The new mannequins breathe, bleed, talk and mimic other human functions.

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"Go away. I'm so sick," moaned one of them, dubbed Sim Man, as guests entered his seventh-floor hospital room (the simulation main lab). He seemed OK. He was breathing, and his vital signs looked fine on the monitor.

A half-hour later, though, nurses Lt. Cmdr. Johannes Bailey and Lt. j.g. Shannon Posey and Corpsman 2nd Class Blake Hite rushed to his side. Sim Man was having a heart attack. He had no pulse. Bailey and Posey alternated between chest compressions and giving breaths while Hite readied a defibrillator. A shock brought Sim Man back to life.

He didn't even say thanks.

Simulators are especially effective at getting teams ready to respond to stressful situations like a heart attack.

"You can't take a test on talking to a real person," said Hite, the simulation-program manager. "That's where we've seen real improvement. Everybody's on the same page and knows what to do."

Lying on a gurney beside Sim Man is Sim Junior, the hospital's first kid mannequin. He and two others -- an adult called 3G and a baby known as NewB -- are right off the production line.

The simulation center gives health care providers a chance to care for patients and develop and maintain a variety of skills. They can practice inserting trachea and stomach tubes, stitch up wounds, birth a baby, listen to lungs and hearts, give shots, draw blood (red water) and insert catheters (Gatorade).

"It's slowly made its way to become more and more realistic," Hite said. "It used to be a piece of plastic that you can't do anything. You can speak through them (now) and give all the pulses ..."

Mannequins are operated with a computer program. Trainers decide what scenario they want to present and Doug Jones, the simulation operator, plugs it in so the mannequins respond appropriately.

"We have the ability if (the trainees) do this, this will happen. If you fail to do this, this will happen," Jones said.

In another top-floor room, a group huddled around the birthing-mom mannequin, and learned about postpartum hemorrhaging and what steps to take to make sure the mother is safe and stop the bleeding.

Family-medicine residents often use the simulation lab to maintain credentials to perform patient care and keep their skills sharp. Hospital staff go there to help get certified before going to the field or fleet.

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