In the United States, the maternal mortality rate has steadily climbed since 1987. In 2013, there were 17.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, the highest in the developed world. Training for emergencies during labor and delivery could prevent a tragedy for both the mother and the child.
For the past two years, the medical staff at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center have used simulation training to improve morale, teamwork, and streamline procedures during labor and delivery emergencies. Providence’s Interprofessional Perinatal Simulation Program is funded by a grant from UniHealth Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to improve the health and well-being of individuals and the community.
The training doctors, nurses, and other medical staff receive in the program will help them respond to emergencies quickly and accurately. They are using Victoria, the world’s most advanced childbirth simulator, to run a variety of medical scenarios so they can be prepared to handle any emergency.
From postpartum hemorrhage and preeclampsia to cardiac arrest, teams of medical professionals across multiple departments work together to stabilize the patient and improve their response to these life-threatening emergencies. Postpartum, NICU, and labor and delivery teams all practice effective communication and focus on how to deliver safer and more effective treatment.
Medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States. By running training scenarios with multiple medical teams, hospitals can identify weaknesses and areas for improvement. Moreover, by rehearsing procedures and medical skills over and over again, participants can master them and reduce the chance of making a mistake.
Participants also have the opportunity to practice better coordination and teamwork skills with members of other departments. By working together during the simulation, the teams learn how to provide fast and effective care. Better teamwork means that the medical staff can coordinate care across multiple departments.
During OB emergencies, every second counts. A quick diagnosis could save the life of the mother and child. Simulation allows the medical staff to develop diagnostic skills so complications can be identified early. Participants can then practice how to assign roles and communicate effectively with teammates and other departments, so mistakes are not made as treatment transitions between departments.
Medical errors often go unreported. However, the medical staff at Providence felt more confident to speak up to physicians during emergencies following simulation training. The staff also reported better coordination between departments, so there is never a delay in care.
Victoria can mimic lifelike physiological functions, and real monitoring equipment can be used on her. Thus, training can occur in a hospital environment and participants can use the equipment they would use during a real emergency. Scenarios can be designed to fit the specific needs of the hospital and prepare the medical staff to handle even rare emergencies.
Furthermore, sensors in Victoria track the participants’ performance in real time. Coupled with recordings of the simulation, participants can debrief after each scenario. Debriefing allows participants to learn what needs to be improved and what was done well. Hospitals can then develop best practices and make changes to procedures with patient safety in mind.
Through their simulation training, Providence developed new hemorrhage carts – one for postpartum and one for labor and delivery – to better respond to emergencies. These carts are aligned with the high standards set by the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative.