Life-like robots used to train nurses

April 1, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
In medical care there is little room for error, and practice makes perfect. In the South Bay, nurses are honing their skills with the help of some remarkably life-like patients. These sophisticated practice dummies simulate what can happen in a hospital.

The situations are real. The patients are hi-fidelity wireless human simulators. One lost a leg, the other hemorrhaged after giving birth. These robots are called the "Hal family" and they are not just ethnically diverse. They can fuss, cry, give birth, bleed and simulate running out of oxygen and going into convulsions.

The ailments and problems of these state of the art simulators are remote-controlled by Chad Lukens.

"You're going to have a patient who is upset, angry, hurt, family members who are scared and loud," says Lukens.

This new program at San Jose Community College is the first worldwide to use the simulators to train working nurses. The nurses are taped reacting to the scenario so they can be reviewed and critiqued. Kaiser Permanante San Jose Medical Center co-sponsored the $800,000 grant in order to buy the robots and equip a five-bed mock hospital room to train 400, or half of their working nurses.

These nurses are working on human simulators that are capable of 72,000 physiological responses. They can mimic situations occurring anywhere from the emergency room of the hospital to the maternity ward.

"So when we do have that type of patient coming into the facility, we're ready to go," says Carol Coen with the San Jose Evergreen Community College District.

Coen directs the program which is working with Kaiser to target training for situations the hospital thought the most important.

"We provided 20 scenarios, wrote the curriculum for it and customized it," says nurse Kathy Ricossa.

Elizabeth Yznaga was one of the first to go through the program. Now she'll help train other nurses and midwives.

"It put me in scenarios that were out of my field and out of my depth and I had all the feelings I used to have as a brand new nurse," says Yznaga.

On July 1, the program will be made available to other hospitals, health workers and first responders.


Load Comments