Phillip M. Harter, M.D.

Publication Details

  • Training healthcare personnel for mass-casualty incidents in a virtual emergency department: VED II. Prehospital and disaster medicine Heinrichs, W. L., Youngblood, P., Harter, P., Kusumoto, L., Dev, P. 2010; 25 (5): 424-432


    Training emergency personnel on the clinical management of a mass-casualty incident (MCI) with prior chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear, or explosives (CBRNE) -exposed patients is a component of hospital preparedness procedures.The objective of this research was to determine whether a Virtual Emergency Department (VED), designed after the Stanford University Medical Center's Emergency Department (ED) and populated with 10 virtual patient victims who suffered from a dirty bomb blast (radiological) and 10 who suffered from exposure to a nerve toxin (chemical), is an effective clinical environment for training ED physicians and nurses for such MCIs.Ten physicians with an average of four years of post-training experience, and 12 nurses with an average of 9.5 years of post-graduate experience at Stanford University Medical Center and San Mateo County Medical Center participated in this IRB-approved study. All individuals were provided electronic information about the clinical features of patients exposed to a nerve toxin or radioactive blast before the study date and an orientation to the "game" interface, including an opportunity to practice using it immediately prior to the study. An exit questionnaire was conducted using a Likert Scale test instrument.Among these 22 trainees, two-thirds of whom had prior Code Triage (multiple casualty incident) training, and one-half had prior CBRNE training, about two-thirds felt immersed in the virtual world much or all of the time. Prior to the training, only four trainees (18%) were confident about managing CBRNE MCIs. After the training, 19 (86%) felt either "confident" or "very confident", with 13 (59%) attributing this change to practicing in the virtual ED. Twenty-one (95%) of the trainees reported that the scenarios were useful for improving healthcare team skills training, the primary objective for creating them. Eighteen trainees (82%) believed that the cases also were instructive in learning about clinical skills management of such incidents.These data suggest that training healthcare teams in online, virtual environments with dynamic virtual patients is an effective method of training for management of MCIs, particularly for uncommonly occurring incidents.

    View details for PubMedID 21053190

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