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Simulators help train doctors


Posted on behalf of Michael D'Amico of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Dec 13, 2013 in Surgical Errors

In a study that could affect how medicine is practiced in Connecticut and across the nation, doctors at the University of Minnesota are using simulators to practice surgical techniques. Software updates are bringing technology to medical students through the use of lifelike models so that they can receive hands-on training. One obvious advantage is that patients won't be hurt while the medical residents are learning, which could reduce lawsuits for medical negligence.

While the technology is in its infancy, doctors anticipate that they will eventually create custom, diseased organs so that students can practice operations without even cutting a person open. The 44-year-old program director came up with the idea of simulators when he thought about video games. He compares it to warm-ups that musicians or athletes perform before they start. Simulators offer an additional advantage of finding common mistakes and assessing surgical techniques. In one case, they found reduced performance from those who were intoxicated the evening before a surgery. He and his coworkers anticipate that the technology will help them become leaders in the industry

Simulators have been around for about 15 years. Prior to their use, residents had to be supervised by a senior doctor as they cut into living patients. One student said the simulators seemed almost real. With new limits in place on the hours a resident can train, the simulators will help with the education process. With consent, they collect tiny bits of tissue from patients who die. They run a wide range of tests on the tissue.

Doctor and hospital errors are a common cause of injury to patients. A personal injury attorney might be able to file a lawsuit on the behalf of clients when a surgeon has been negligent or makes a blatant error.

Source: Hispanic Business, "Hands on surgery, minus the patient: U researchers refine use of simulators to practice surgery", Dan Browning, December 08, 2013