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SMU Uses Simulation to Help Nurses Identify and Treat Sepsis

Karen Boucher, ABSMC Nurse and '82 SMU alum This summer nearly 150 nurses from Alta Bates Summit Medical Center used simulation training at Samuel Merritt University (SMU) to raise the level of education and experience in early identification of sepsis.  The goal was aimed at reducing the number of reported sepsis-associated mortality rates.

Alta Bates Summit nurses, with the aid of SMU faculty with simulation expertise, used the equipment and procedures at the Health Sciences Simulation Center (HSSC) located at the University's Oakland campus to make learning sepsis realistic. 

"The unique opportunity offered through simulation re-enforced skills the nurses use every day in recognizing early stages of sepsis development," said Thomas Holton, RN, MS PACE Clinical Transformation Director at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center.  "Simulation improves overall team skills and critical thinking related to the care and treatment of sepsis."

NBC 11 Mikey Lang films Sepsis traning at HSSC suiteThe HSSC uses human-like mannequins, managed by highly sophisticated computer software.  It enables healthcare providers to learn, practice and repeat procedures as often as necessary in order to correct mistakes, fine-tune their skills and develop patient practice that have been proven to optimize clinical outcomes.

"While hands-on, experiential learning is indispensable, healthcare professionals are increasingly concerned about, and committed to, the safety of patients," explains Celeste Villanueva, CRNA, MS, Director of Health Sciences Simulation Center.  "With simulation learning, healthcare providers have the opportunity to develop and refine their skills using simulation technology - without putting patients at risk." 

Through the re-enforcement training, Alta Bates nurses earned continued education units (CEU).  They said working with simulation was an eye-opening experience. 

Jeanette Wong and Bill Stier in Control Room, monitoring Sepsis training"I wish they had this type of technology when I went to nursing school," said Karen Boucher, RN, Alta Bates Emergency Department.  "Back then we practiced on each other."

"The mannequin's just rock," exclaimed Grace Boyson, RN, Alta Bates Summit.  "The human patient simulators can talk to you, breath, take in liquids, pretty much everything we do in an emergency room."

Each year, sepsis strikes an estimated 750,000 people in the United States.  It is the leading cause of death for non-cardiac, critically ill patients in the U.S.  Sepsis is the one diagnosis specific initiative that the Institute for Healthcare Improvement recommends all hospitals tackle. 

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