Use of simulation-based mastery learning to improve the quality of central venous catheter placement in a medical intensive care unit

J Hosp Med. 2009 Sep;4(7):397-403. doi: 10.1002/jhm.468.


Background: Central venous catheter (CVC) insertions are performed frequently by internal medicine residents. Complications, including arterial puncture and pneumothorax, decrease when operators use fewer needle passes to insert the CVC. In this study, we evaluated the effect of simulation-based mastery learning on CVC insertion skill.

Design: This was a cohort study of internal jugular (IJ) and subclavian (SC) CVC insertions by 41 internal medicine residents rotating through the medical intensive care unit (MICU) over a five-month period. Thirteen traditionally-trained residents were surveyed about the number of needle passes, complications, and procedural self-confidence on CVCs inserted in the MICU. Concurrently, 28 residents completed simulation-based training in IJ and SC CVC insertions. Simulator-trained residents were expected to perform CVC insertions to mastery standards on a central line simulator. Simulator-trained residents then rotated through the MICU and were surveyed regarding CVC placement. The impact of simulation training was assessed by comparing group survey results.

Results: No resident met the minimum passing score (MPS) (79.1%) for CVC insertion at baseline: mean (M) (IJ) = 48.4%, standard deviation (SD) = 23.1, M(SC) = 45.2%, SD = 26.3. All residents met or exceeded the MPS at testing after simulation training: M(IJ) = 94.8%, SD = 10.0, M(SC) = 91.1%, SD = 17.8 (p < 0.001). In the MICU, simulator-trained residents required fewer needle passes to insert a CVC than traditionally-trained residents: M = 1.79, SD = 1.0 versus M = 2.78, SD = 1.77 (p = 0.04). Simulator-trained residents displayed more self-confidence about their procedural skills: (M = 81, SD = 11 versus M = 68, SD = 20, p = 0.02).

Conclusions: Simulation-based mastery learning increased residents' skills in simulated CVC insertion, decreased the number of needle passes when performing actual procedures, and increased resident self-confidence.

MeSH terms

  • Catheterization, Central Venous / standards*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Competency-Based Education / methods*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Hospitalists / education*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Internal Medicine / education*
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Manikins*