Background: There is widespread recognition that the conduct of cardiac resuscitation is problematic. In situ simulation has been used to train and evaluate cardiac arrest teams' performance in the hospital setting, but in work at a university-affiliated, tertiary care facility, the simulated cardiac arrests were used to understand how well health care providers and their environment function during arrests, with the goal of a rapid intervention to correct problem areas. Latent conditions--innate, mostly hidden, workplace factors--can have a large detrimental impact on resuscitation efforts.
Methods: Observations from a series of unannounced simulated cardiac arrests undertaken at diverse locations within a university-affiliated, tertiary care hospital were a component of an ongoing initiative to improve performance of emergency cardiovascular care.
Results: Fourteen cardiac arrest simulations revealed 24 hazardous findings, approximately two thirds of which had a high likelihood of compromising patient survival if they had occurred during an actual cardiac arrest. Categories of problems included active errors by teams and individuals and systemic or latent errors of the environment. Because the simulations were designed with the goal of discovering and documenting errors, most errors led to further actions, policies, and procedures that were rapidly adopted by the medical center to prevent their recurrence.
Conclusions: In situ simulation of cardiac arrests elicits lifelike behaviors and allows engagement of all personnel and resources applicable to real arrests. This method allowed for remedial plans to be developed before further harm could occur. Accordingly, in situ simulation of high-risk events may be a useful, efficient technique that complements existing quality assurance processes in hospitals.