This will be my first time attending IPSSW, now in it's 7th year in beautiful Vancouver, B.C. The last time I visited Vancouver was almost twenty years ago and I must say, things have changed a lot! I remember the totem poles at Stanley Park, but I do not recall the sheer number of high rises. Amazing!
CLR booth at IPSSW
After some sightseeing, I set up our booth and talked with attendees in between sessions. I enjoyed discussing with practitioners about how they run ECMO simulations at their institutions or if they knew of someone that is trying set one up. A lot of times practitioners focus on making it as simple as possible, they run the simulation in the room without the element of surprise. Other times they say there isn't much to simulate and just rely on didactics . ECMO simulation is understood to be a great training tool (see Simulating ECMO Emergencies to Improve Human Performance1) and the need for an accurate response to an ECMO emergency is tantamount to life or death.
Human performance degrades in the face of significant stress. Studies have shown that in a relaxed environment, clinicians can choose the correct medication off the shelf 99.9% of the time, but with a "code blue" patient on the floor, the error rate may be as high as 25% in performing the same task.2 Depending on the ECMO setup an air embolus on the venous side of the pump could reach a patient in 30 seconds or less. For many ECMO emergencies (like air entrainment), faster response times may result in better clinical outcomes.
1. Anderson et al. Simulating ECMO Emergencies to Improve Human Performance. Simulation in Healthcare 2006; 1: 220 - 232
2. DeVita MA, Schaefer J, Lutz J, et al. Improving medical crisis team performance. Crit Care Med 2004; 32(2 Suppl): S61-S65