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Simulated patient care training is an idea adapted from airline industry flight simulators, which have been used in pilot training for more than 50 years. Aviation studies and natural history have provided clear evidence that teamwork errors have been responsible for plane crashes and near misses. As a result of these studies, crew resource management team (CRM) training in realistic flight simulators is an annual mandatory requirement in the aviation industry.
Rhode Island Hospital and its Hasbro Children's Hospital became funded participants in a United States Department of Defense project to transfer the lessons learned from Army aviation to medical teams in emergency departments. MedTeams™ - a multi-center military and civilian project (1995 to 1999) - demonstrated the patient safety benefits of implementing a teamwork training curriculum in emergency medicine. The first phase of the study (needs analysis) demonstrated 43 percent of closed claims involved teamwork errors. The validation phase showed a reduction in medical errors by 26.5 percent after implementation of department wide teamwork training. Most recently, investigators at Rhode Island Hospital Medical Simulation Center have provided evidence that medical simulation training enhances didactic learning and improves team performance in the Andrew F. Anderson Emergency Center.
The MedTeams™ project was given impetus by the 1999 Institute of Medicine report, "To Err Is Human." The study revealed that between 44,000 and 98,000 hospitalized Americans died each year as the result of medical errors. Among the study's specific recommendations was one supporting medical simulation and teamwork training at all levels of medical education and for hospital based clinicians.
The Rhode Island Hospital Medical Simulation Center began operation in May 2002. The center, a custom-designed and built 3,000 square foot training and assessment facility, is the largest and best equipped adult and pediatric center in southern New England.