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Almost as real as real: Simulations, mannequins and medical training

Medical simulators give doctors and nurses an opportunity to practice without risking patient harm. Peter Weinstock and his team are creating sophisticated, scenario-based simulations that bring new realism to medical training.

Things had taken a turn for the worse as the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) team tried to stabilize the two-day-old boy just transported in from a hospital in Maine:

“His heart rate is going down.” “I think he’s going into tachycardia, have the defibrillator ready.” “Starting chest compressions!”

The care team struggled to get the baby’s heart function under control while addressing his deteriorating lung problems.

That’s when the facilitator announced: “The simulation is over, everyone. Let’s go back to the conference room and debrief.”

Everyone stepped back, and that’s when I saw that the child on the bed wasn’t a child – it was a very advanced mannequin – and that the doctors and nurses working feverishly in front of me were taking part in a training, one of hundreds run every year by the Children’s Hospital Boston Simulator Program.

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