Devices & Technology

BabySIM Provides Emergency Preparation for the Smallest Patients

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By Christina Orlovsky, senior staff writer

Patient simulators have grown in popularity in hospitals across the United States. But for one Florida hospital, emergency training isn’t about how big a trend grows. At Shands Jacksonville Medical Center, in Jacksonville, Florida, technology now comes in a smaller package known as BabySIM.

In May, Shands became the first hospital in the nation to use an infant-size patient simulator. BabySIM, which can simulate either a boy or a girl, will be used to train nurses, emergency room physicians, paramedics and medical students in emergency treatment of tiny patients.

“This is not your standard mannequin. It is truly an interactive patient,” said Wayne Hodges, RN, a paramedic and educational coordinator for trauma and flight services at Shands Jacksonville Medical Center.

Hodges explained that BabySIM is able to mimic all of the natural functions of an actual baby patient: It blinks and exhales carbon dioxide; it can cry and urinate; it has a rising chest and changeable pupils; and it responds to medications—an important feature since dosing in infants is weight-based, Hodges explained.

“The computer has a physiology that is unbelievable. It has the ability for bleeding, nasal drainage and drooling built into the simulator just as it would be on a real child,” Hodges added. “It’s the flight simulator for health care.”

Purchased with a grant from the Children’s Miracle Network, Hodges expects BabySIM to provide an invaluable service to the medical flight team and emergency staff at the level one trauma center and level one pediatric trauma center. He acknowledged that the staff already appreciates the value of simulated patients—the hospital has already been using an adult simulator for more than a year.

Still, Hodges explained that BabySIM will add even more value to the emergency department due to the simple fact that pediatric patients are a smaller size than adults and therefore must be handled accordingly.

“The benefit of training on BabySIM is that it is a realistic size and weight and we’ll most likely have three or four health care professionals working on it at once,” he said. “When you have a 3-month-old child and three adults trying to fit around it, it takes coordination. When you’re dealing with something this size, you need as much realism as possible.”

According to Medical Education Technologies Inc., the Sarasota, Florida, company that manufactures BabySIM, the interactive infant is as real as it gets. BabySIM weighs 21 pounds and measures 28-inches long, simulating the measurements of a 3- to 6-month-old infant. While Shands Jacksonville Medical Center is the first to train with BabySIM, the manufacturer stated that 16 more simulators are on their way to hospitals in California, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Canada, Japan and Europe.

Meanwhile, in the next year, Hodges plans to train roughly 150 to 200 nurses, 50 residents and roughly 200 paramedics to use the technology.

“The most important benefit of the simulator is that you get to practice emergencies before patients die,” Hodges said. “There are many people who need training to treat emergencies, and they usually don’t get the opportunity to practice on that emergency unless they have a simulator. Before, a lot of the practice was on patients. The fact is that if you drill for an emergency, you do a lot better than if you just go in when the emergency is already taking place.”

For more information, visit the BabySIM Web site.

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