It was a horrible and bloody scene. A 67-year-man was rushed into the trauma room following a car crash. His leg had been severed by the impact, and he had no vital signs. Luckily, this was no ordinary patient. In fact, he had been through this scenario a few hundred times already!
Welcome to Sunnybrook’s Simulation Centre, the first to be established in Canada fifteen years ago. Two full-body mannequins, and several smaller body parts (called part-task trainers) are used to train nearly 1,500 learners from a variety of disciplines every year. It’s a pretty cool way to learn, and extremely realistic. These mannequins can talk, breath and scream, just like real patients. The teams even have mock family members barging in to add a realistic distraction.
Simulation has long been used in areas like aviation. And the purpose is simple: make your mistakes without endangering lives. The same goes for medicine: learning from errors without real-life consequences. Every scenario is videotaped, so the team can watch it later and learn from what went right and wrong.
While simulation is now done around the world, Sunnybrook is still a leader in training and research. Sunnybrook's team also has the bragging rights of being crowned International Champions in simulation, after attending a conference with 2,000 participants!
It’s all about practicing your smarts, on a bunch of dummies. Because when it comes to real patients, getting it right is the name of the game.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
Happy (almost) May 2-4! It’s the unofficial start of summer, as thousands flock to cottages, campgrounds and backyard barbeques. Can’t you just smell those burgers grilling?! And as the parties kick into high gear, the one happening at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre could be the most unforgettable of the season.
Welcome to P.A.R.T.Y, or Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth program. It’s not about having fun, but it does help save lives. Twice a week, a group of high school students tours Sunnybrook’s Critical Care, as well as Trauma Centre (the largest in Canada). They view graphic video of actual crash scenes, and speak to survivors. They also hear from the coroner, paramedics, police, nurses and doctors about the real consequences bad choices have. Call it the medical version of scared straight.
After spending the day with one class, the impact was clear. Some kids had to leave the room. Others fainted. Crying was another common reaction. While you might think that’s harsh, organizers say this program is graphic with a purpose: infusing a bit of reality into the lives of often risk-taking youth, at a time when many feel invincible.
After starting the program almost 25 years ago, Sunnybrook is known as P.A.R.T.Y headquarters. The program has evolved to include more than 100 programs around the world, including over 75 programs here in Canada. And a new ten-year study tracking kids who have taken it shows a marked decrease in injuries and driving offenses. So it is making a difference.
As you enjoy your May long weekend, remember that the majority of injuries are both predictable and preventable, at any age. So make it a memorable holiday, not a deadly one.
Friday, May 7, 2010
It’s a question I’ve always wondered about. How do nurses, who care for the sick, injured and dying, stay well? How do they avoid getting the flu? What does it take to manage the stresses of the job and find balance? How do they stay on their feet for long shifts, year in and out, without running themselves into the ground?
It’s National Nursing Week, so what better time to satisfy my curiosity? With camera in hand, I roved the various departments at Sunnybrook to ask nurses the same question over and over: what are your secrets to staying fit, happy and healthy?
The answers were as varied as the nurses themselves. There are the obvious approaches, like fantastic hand hygiene. But the less glaring tricks are the ones that often ground these exceptional professionals. One nurse, who works with critically ill cancer patients, finds balance in horseback riding. And while that might not be your preferred activity, the message from the method is: caring for something other than yourself helps relieve stress.
As I went along, I found other common threads that can easily be woven into daily living: prepare your meals, move your body and laugh. And there were a few surprises, too. Let’s just say, fishing rods and belly dancing have much more in common than I’d ever have guessed!
So I got my answers, and then some. This is the kind of medicine that’s easy to swallow. Learn more about Nursing Week 2010
Monday, May 3, 2010
Watch this video on YouTube
UPDATE: As of January 2013, Sunnybrook is one of six sites in Ontario receiving government funding. Collectively, TAVI donor support totalling $2.5 million for the surgical devices has led to a permanent change in the way health care is delivered and has allowed Sunnybrook to establish a TAVI centre of excellence. Most importantly, 150 lives have been saved with this procedure.
76-year-old Gordon Golding remembers seeing two pesky dandelions on his lawn, and wanting to rip them out. No surprise. But by the time he reached his shed to fetch the proper tools to do the job, he was completely out of breath. Big surprise.
Over time, one of Gordon’s heart valves had become blocked. It’s a common problem that gets more difficult to fix as we age, because traditional treatments are invasive. And Gordon’s situation was particularly dire. Knowing that drug treatment wouldn’t keep him alive for long, he needed another option, fast.
Sunnybrook’s Schulich Heart Centre to undergo a procedure called TAVI (which stands for transcatheter aortic valve implantation). It’s a gentler procedure to repair diseased heart valves, which only requires catheters to be inserted through the groin to find the right spot to replace the valve. Patients spend less time in the operating room, leave hospital more quickly, and most importantly, live! Learn how to support Schulich Heart Centre.
But there is a pricey catch: more than $20,000 per valve to be exact. TAVI has been done thousands of times in Europe, and is a proven lifesaver. But here in Canada, Sunnybrook is one of only a handful of centres offering it. Because TAVI is considered experimental, the Ministry of Health doesn’t cover the cost, meaning each valve has to be purchased through patient donations. The bottom line is, many patients are going without.
When I met Gordon here at Sunnybrook, he was in for his follow up. As I sat in on his echocardigram, I saw a strong heart beating on the monitor and a very happy man looking on. When it comes to second chances, it’s hard to put a dollar value on that.
Anyone interested in making a donation can go to the Sunnybrook website.