Background: We developed a problem-based learning exercise with a full-scale human patient simulator to teach residents the emergency management and differential diagnosis of acute intraoperative hypotension.
Methods: We developed the exercise through the following steps: clear definition of learning objectives, preparation of an appropriate case stem, development of clinically realistic scenarios to illustrate objectives, and an interactive instructor to stimulate discussion.
Results: The exercise focused on the differential diagnosis of intraoperative hypotension, and the acute treatment of hypovolemia, cardiac tamponade, tension pneumothorax, and anaphylaxis.
Conclusions: Exercises on a full-scale patient simulator are a natural extension of problem-based learning. Recent research in learning theory provides the rationale for this teaching modality's potential as a learning tool.