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Simulator-Based Crew Resource Management Training for Interhospital Transfer of Critically Ill Patients by a Mobile ICU

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Background: Transporting critically ill ICU patients by standard ambulances, with or without an accompanying physician, imposes safety risks. In 2007 the Dutch Ministry of Public Health required that all critically ill patients transferred between ICUs in different hospitals be transported by a mobile ICU (MICU). Since March 2009 a specially designed MICU and a retrieval team have served the region near University Medical Center Groningen, in the northeastern region of the Netherlands. The MICU transport program includes simulator-based crew resource management (CRM) training for the intensivists and ICU nurses, who, with the drivers, constitute the MICU crews.

Methods: Training entails five pivotal aspects: (1) preparation, (2) teamwork, (3) new equipment, (4) mobility, and (5) safety. For example, the training accustoms participants to working in the narrow, moving ambulance and without benefit of additional manpower. The scenario-based team training, which takes about four hours, occurs in a training facility, with its reconstructed ICU, and then in the MICU itself. A "wireless" patient simulator that is able to mimic hemodynamic and respiratory patterns and to simulate lung and heart sounds is used. All scenarios can be adjusted to simulate medical, logistic, or technical problems.

Results:Since the start of MICU training in 2009, more than 70 training sessions, involving 100 team members, have been conducted. Quality issues identified include failure to anticipate possible problems (such as failing to ask for intubation of a respiratory-compromised patient at intake); late responses to alarms of the ventilator, perfusor pump, or monitor; and not anticipating a possible shortage of medication.

Conclusions: Setting up and implementing simulator-based CRM training provides feasible and helpful preparation for an MICU team.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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