Choosing the Right Medical Simulator

In the medical field, simulations provide an immersive, hands-on learning experience in a safe environment that does not compromise patient safety. Medical simulations can be performed on either real people who play the role of patients or on medical devices. This guide focuses mainly on medical devices, such as various simulators and training manikins.

Simulators are devices used for training in various medical procedures. They are designed to represent all or part of the human (or animal, for veterinary purposes) body. They are usually equipped with an electronic system that recreates vital signs, movements, etc. They are often used in immersive medical practice environments.

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  • What are medical simulators used for?

    Medical simulation recreates real-life situations so that healthcare providers can learn, practice and assess their medical skills in a safe environment. This type of training helps limit the risk of accidents that can occur in practice when healthcare workers have not been sufficiently trained. Medical simulators are used for a number of purposes, including ongoing training, teaching, public education and research.

    • Ongoing training: Training simulators are used to provide specific training for physicians, nurses, surgeons and other healthcare workers in various medical and surgical specialties, as well as to prepare them for the application of the best practices as adopted by hospitals.
    • Teaching: Medical simulators are widely used in the initial training of medical students. In surgical teaching, for example, they offer another dimension to traditional learning, often carried out through observation, and allow medical acts to be practiced and perfected in a safe environment. Suture simulators, intravenous injection simulators, etc., can be used by students to practice correctly using the instruments and technology found in operating rooms.
    • Public education: Medical simulators can be used to train the general public in first aid, for example.
    • Technical and medical research

    Main uses:

    • Ongoing training
    • Teaching
    • Public education
    • Technical and medical research
  • Where are medical simulators used?

    Medical simulators can be used in simulation centers. Depending on the application, simulators can also be found in:

    • Hospitals
    • Medical schools and university hospitals
    • Ongoing training institutes for healthcare professionals
    • Research laboratories
  • In which specialty fields are medical simulations used?

    Many specialty fields use medical simulations, but they are most widely used in surgery, emergency care, gynecology-obstetrics and intensive care.

    • Surgery: There are many different types of surgical simulators for different specialties, including orthopedic surgery and cardiovascular surgery.
    • Emergency care: Emergency care simulators are used for scenarios where rapid patient treatment is required, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation or airway management.
    • Gynecology-obstetrics: Simulators for gynecological care are invaluable tools. There are also manikins used in obstetric care training that have a compressor in the abdomen that can simulate childbirth.
    • Intensive care: Intensive care simulators can be used to practice difficult procedures such as intubating a patient, artificial ventilation, anesthesia, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and more.

    The Chamberlain Group cardiac surgery simulator

    Nasco gynecological patient simulator

  • What are the different types of simulations?

    There are three main types of simulations: human simulation, manikin simulation and virtual simulation. There is also hybrid simulation, large-scale simulation and simulations known as “serious games”.

    Human simulation

    This type of simulation is performed with a standardized patient, also known as a simulated patient. Either actors, healthcare professionals, or real sick patients play the role of the patient in order to simulate consultations. For example, this could be used to help train medical students or healthcare professionals how to empathetically and compassionately break the news of a patient’s death or difficult diagnosis to family members.

    Manikin simulation

    There are two main types of manikin simulations:

    CAE patient simulator for nurses

    • High-fidelity simulation (also known as full-scale simulation): This type of simulation involves the use of realistic, human-like manikins that represent life-size patients (adult, child, infant). These patient simulators are computer-controlled and simulate vital functions (blood pressure, pulse, etc.) speech, and, in the case of the most advanced devices, responses to stimuli and treatments. Some simulators even have the ability to bleed, blink, cry and sweat.
    • Procedural simulation: This type of simulation is less realistic than high-fidelity simulation and is generally limited to one specific body part. It is used to learn technical procedures, such as in surgery or imaging. This is also known as low-fidelity simulation. This category includes, for example, torso simulators, pelvis simulators, arm simulators, etc.

    Virtual simulation

    Virtual medical simulator

    Virtual medical simulation

    Virtual simulation uses virtual reality and computer screens to provide training in procedures such as probe implantation, instrument handling, ECG analysis, etc. There are also software-based simulation programs for simulating aging, crisis management scenarios in simulation rooms, or what are known as “serious games”. Serious games are a form of virtual simulation in which the learner is immersed in a virtual environment that helps them acquire skills and knowledge.

    In addition, there are also two other types of simulations:

    • Hybrid simulation: This type of simulation combines simulated patients and manikin body parts, for example a pelvis that can simulate childbirth or an arm for intravenous infusions. This creates realistic scenarios in which practicing technical procedures is combined with interacting with real people.
    • Large-scale simulation: This simulation combines the use of simulated patients, hybrid simulation and high-fidelity simulators. It is particularly useful in disaster medicine and helps healthcare professionals prepare for large-scale crisis situations.

    Types of simulations:

    • Human simulation
    • Manikin simulation
    • Virtual simulation
    • Hybrid simulation
    • Large-scale simulation
  • What are the benefits of medical simulations?

    There are a number of inherent benefits to medical simulations, including enhancing patient safety and increasing the confidence of healthcare professionals.

    • Enhancing patient safety: Medical simulations can reduce or even prevent healthcare mistakes, misdiagnoses, medical injuries and poor medical practices from healthcare professionals that may harm or injure patients. They not only ensure the patient’s well-being, but they also help avoid additional costs related to healthcare errors.
    • Building confidence among healthcare professionals: Medical simulations are a good way of building healthcare professionals’ confidence in their skills and knowledge. They provide learners with a safe and reassuring environment in which they may make mistakes and learn from them without fear of harming the patient.
    • Better assessment of the difficulty of medical procedures
    • Care is carried out in a controlled and assessable environment
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