The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care
We have developed a computerized simulation of a virtual patient and ventilator (VENTMED), to help train practitioners and other clinicians in our ventilator management protocols. This format allows the clinician to treat a simulated patient rather than receive only a didactic presentation. Background: This computerized simulation is a self-contained module that teaches the Jefferson Weaning Protocol [Resp Care 1996;41(10):948]. The protocol, using PSV for endurance muscle training, has traditionally been taught to practitioners using in-services by a staff member who reviews the steps of the protocol. VENTMED assures thorough and consistent content, and allows practitioners to periodically refresh their competency at their individual pace and convenience. Method: VENTMED consists of three parts: the course, the patient model, and the ventilator model. The course guides the user through the protocol (shown) and explains each step. The course is linked to the simulation so that material is presented at the appropriate time. The patient model consists of a mathematical model of lung mechanics, gas exchange, and respiratory control. The ventilator model is an adaptation of the Bear 1000 (Thermo Electron). The simulation can be viewed through both the virtual ventilator's monitors and a three-dimensional depiction of the patient and equipment. VENTMED tracks each user's decisions and prepares a performance review at the case conclusion. The program runs on ordinary hospital workstations (Pentium 133MHz; Win 95/98/NT).
Results: The program has been trialed by practitioners and physicians. A case simulation averaged 20 minutes. Users reported the patient and ventilator simulation made learning the protocol immediate and the visualization and interaction made the training more challenging and enjoyable. Since the program requires no special hardware, it can be used in hospital computer-training centers, on the patient floors, or even at home.
Conclusions: VENTMED shows promise as a tool for enhancing both teaching of Respiratory Care protocols and competency evaluation.
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