In recent years, simulation-based training has seen increased application in medical education. Emergency medicine simulation uses a variety of educational tools to facilitate trainee acquisition of knowledge and skills in order to help achieve curriculum objectives. In this report, we describe the use of a highly realistic human patient simulator to instruct emergency medicine senior residency trainees on the management of a burn patient.
Burns are commonly classified as thermal, electrical, or chemical, with thermal burns further subdivided as secondary to flame, contact, or scalding . Thermal burns affect thousands of people every year, and it is estimated that approximately 500,000 individuals require treatment, while around 10% require hospital admission . Associated carbon monoxide (CO) and cyanide (CN-) toxicity from smoke inhalation can increase morbidity and mortality and should be treated accordingly [3-4]. Advances in emergency care, including wound care, fluid resuscitation, and timely consultation, have led to an improved prognosis for burn victims [1-2]. For emergency medicine trainees, knowledge and practical experience in dealing with burn emergencies is essential.
This technical report describes a simulation-based teaching session designed for a cohort of postgraduate emergency medicine trainees in their third and final year of training at Memorial University of Newfoundland. The objective of this case study is to educate trainees about significant burns and underlying associated conditions, such as CO toxicity, CN toxicity, and trauma.
In this scenario, we use a highly realistic and technologically-advanced human patient simulator operated by a trained technician who follows a pre-defined storyboard (i.e. simulation scenario). The difficulty of the scenario can be tailored to the level of the trainee with modifications to one or more objectives and final case outcomes/endpoints for the scenario. Figure 1 provides a general overview of key objectives, decision points and flow of the case.
The simulation training session is conducted in a simulation laboratory, using our Laerdal SimMan 3G human patient simulator. Prior to the session, a detailed stepwise scenario template is developed. The simulation technical staff prepare the human patient simulator and the laboratory space for execution of the case. At our site, early submission of cases to the simulation laboratory staff technologist (generally six weeks ahead) is followed by a 'dry run' of the case. This allows all personnel involved to become familiar with the case and to address any practical concerns. A trained confederate plays the role of the ER nurse. When running the case for learners, there is a minimum of two instructors/clinicians present. One individual sits with the laboratory staff technician in the control room and directs the flow of the case while a second observes the scenario and takes notes on resident performance. Based on the principles of the optimal challenge point framework [5-6], we developed a progressively challenging case that can be adjusted in the level of difficulty for learners at different levels of training (Tables 1-2). Previous research suggests that such progressive adjustments in difficulty may be more beneficial to the learning process [7-8]. Figure 1 outlines the basic flow of the scenario and references Tables 2-4 to give direction with respect to varying levels of difficulty and key potential 'turning points' in the case.
A pre-briefing is held with the trainees before details of the case are presented. The pre-brief plays a very important role in the case and for simulation-based medical education as a whole. Every effort is made to establish a 'safe container' for the learners, as described by Rudolph, et al. . All those involved in observing the case, including the sim lab staff who will manage the technical aspects of the case, will be disclosed to the residents. We inform the residents of whether or not the case will have an evaluative function but emphasize our focus on learning. Limitations of the simulation are acknowledged, specifically, any technical issues with the mannequin and resource availability. Without revealing specific details, the origin and rationale for the case may be discussed to help the learner appreciate why the specific case has been included in the curriculum.
Once the pre-brief is finished, the brief background, case history, and vitals are presented to the learner/team in the pre-brief room, as outlined under the pre-scenario information in Table 1. Residents are then instructed to move to the simulation room and begin the case with an assessment of the patient.
The scenario takes place in the resuscitation bay of a community hospital. It involves a middle-aged male patient arriving at the emergency department via Emergency Medical Services (EMS). The patient was rescued from a house fire and presents with extensive burns and evidence of smoke inhalation. When requested, trainees are provided with a very limited history lacking details on allergies, medications, and past medical history (PMHx).
The scenario begins with the patient in the emergency resuscitation room. At the learner's request, the patient will be connected to the monitor and have intravenous (IV) lines established. Available equipment includes a resuscitation cart, defibrillator, and difficult airway equipment. Drugs necessary for pain management, advanced life cardiac support, and rapid sequence intubation, as well as props for fluid resuscitation and simple wound care are available, if requested by the trainee. In addition, if a surgical airway is required, learners can practice their cricothyroidotomy skills on a low fidelity surgical airway model as outlined in Figures 2-6.
A structured debriefing session is carried out after completion of the scenario. Care is taken during the debriefing to ensure that the debriefer to resident ratio approximates 1:1. This limit encourages trainees to speak more freely about challenges, thought processes, and issues they may have faced during the simulation. Our debriefing model is based mainly on frame-discovery as described by Rudolph, et al. . This approach focuses on an advocacy-inquiry technique aimed at uncovering the trainee’s thought processes, allowing us to address both errors of process and knowledge gaps.
A didactic session is routinely integrated into the debriefing session. This enables the instructors to address knowledge gaps identified through the scenario and debriefs and gives trainees an opportunity to solidify and consolidate knowledge gained as a result of the simulation exercise. Instructors are prepared to discuss a couple of specific topics in detail as a part of the debriefing process, but we recognize the need for flexibility and will modify the main discussion topics if particular issues arise during the simulation session.
The ability to diagnose and treat thermal burns, smoke inhalation, and associated toxicology is crucial for the practicing emergency physician. For a number of reasons, many emergency medicine trainees gain limited hands-on exposure of managing burn patients in an emergency clinical setting. A case-based simulation of this clinical presentation can prove invaluable. Key learning objectives include:
1. Recognizing and managing extensive thermal burns with airway involvement - including surgical airway management,
2. Recognizing and addressing challenges of fluid management in the burn patient,
3. Recognizing potential toxic exposures in the burn patient,
4. Integrating and discussing key relevant non-medical expert CanMEDs roles, with a particular focus on crisis resource management.
The post-scenario didactic session allows for discussion on how to emergently care for a burn victim with extensive thermal injuries and a high likelihood of airway burns, smoke inhalation, and secondary toxicological issues. The didactic portion of the session draws upon several key resources available to the emergency physician [2-3]. The discussion will include the preferred method of intubation and the challenges of the emergent surgical airway. Appropriate fluid resuscitation, based on the Parkland formula, is reviewed and bedside intervention for potential CO/CN exposure is addressed [2-3]. Topics in crisis resource management (CRM) also fit very well with the case. In a setting where the learner has limited resources and is faced with a sick patient who potentially needs a bedside surgical airway and certainly requires subsequent specialist assistance, CRM is easily integrated as a key objective and may affect long-term learning and performance [11-14].
In this technical report, our use of a stepwise approach to facilitate the execution of a simulation-based scenario gives a structured but flexible template that accounts for potential variation in resident approach to the case. The dry run helps to ensure the case runs smoothly and helps identify practical issues with using the scenario. The use of a formal debriefing model combined with a post-scenario didactic session allows instructors to identify and address knowledge gaps and errors of process encountered with their trainees.
Teaching emergency medicine trainees how to care for burn victims and to treat injuries secondary to smoke inhalation through simulation-based medical training (SMBE) is a valuable training tool. Here, we described a stepwise algorithm developed to facilitate the execution of a simulation scenario as well as an integrated teaching session incorporating a range of simulators and didactics with components of debriefing included.
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Thermal Burns and Smoke Inhalation: A Simulation Session
Ethics Statement and Conflict of Interest Disclosures
Human subjects: All authors have confirmed that this study did not involve human participants or tissue. Animal subjects: All authors have confirmed that this study did not involve animal subjects or tissue. Conflicts of interest: In compliance with the ICMJE uniform disclosure form, all authors declare the following: Payment/services info: All authors have declared that no financial support was received from any organization for the submitted work. Financial relationships: All authors have declared that they have no financial relationships at present or within the previous three years with any organizations that might have an interest in the submitted work. Other relationships: All authors have declared that there are no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.
This project was supported by Tuckamore Simulation Research Network and Emergency Medicine Educational Committee, Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Cite this article as:
Parsons M H, Murphy J, Alani S, et al. (October 21, 2015) Thermal Burns and Smoke Inhalation: A Simulation Session . Cureus 7(10): e360. doi:10.7759/cureus.360
Received by Cureus: September 22, 2015
Peer review began: September 29, 2015
Peer review concluded: October 19, 2015
Published: October 21, 2015
© Copyright 2015
Parsons et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License CC-BY 3.0., which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.