Development of pediatric multidisciplinary extracorporeal membrane oxygenation simulations: A novel educational program to enhance team communication and emergency preparedness


Advocate Children's Heart Institute, Advocate Children's Hospital, Advocate Christ Medical Center Simulation Center


Introduction: Pediatric extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a high risk, low-volume technology. Infrequency of this technology and associated complications may translate to unfamiliarity of identification and management of potentially life-threatening events, which may require knowledge and procedural skills to be performed quickly. Providers involved in managing ECMO must be able to promptly identify and initiate management for such events, particularly when surgical colleagues are not readily available.

Methods: A multidisciplinary ECMO simulation program was implemented in a tertiary children's hospital. Over 18 months, a prospective, observational study was conducted evaluating simulations involving circuit and patient emergencies, teamwork and communication behaviors and technical skills. An on-line survey was sent to participants following sessions to evaluate post-simulation confidence, lessons learned and potential barriers to implementation of necessary skills and behaviors.

Results: Ten simulation sessions occurred during implementation. Mean participants per session was 7 (range: 5-11). Eight Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit attendings, four Advance Practice Nurses, 54 pediatric intensive care unit registered nurses, and 55 pediatric respiratory therapists attended. Tasks with highest self-reported increase in confidence were related to (1) diagnosis (tension pneumothorax, oxygenator failure, and ventricular tachycardia), (2) fluid administration and (3) early and efficient mobilization for ECPR, with less reported confidence increase with technical skills More than 90% of participants provided a task or behavior they would implement if a specific emergency was encountered in real-life following simulation training. Real-life application occurred following simulations with participants reporting direct impact of training on their ability to perform the skill efficiently and correctly.

Conclusions: Implementation of ECMO multidisciplinary simulations provides structured opportunities for the team to learn and practice ECMO skills together in scenarios they may encounter without surgical presence. Ensuring competency of providers through implementation of such a program may improve patient safety through enhanced team communication, knowledge, and hands-on experience.

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