Impact of simulation-based extracorporeal membrane oxygenation training in the simulation laboratory and clinical environment

Simul Healthc. 2011 Oct;6(5):284-91. doi: 10.1097/SIH.0b013e31821dfcea.


Introduction: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a high-risk, complex therapy. Opportunities to develop teamwork skills and expertise to mitigate risks are few. Our objective was to assess whether simulation would improve technical and nontechnical skills in dealing with ECMO circuit emergencies and allow transfer of skills from the simulated setting to clinical environment.

Methods: Subjects were ECMO circuit providers who performed scenarios utilizing an infant simulator and functional ECMO circuit, followed immediately by video-assisted debriefings. Within the simulation laboratory, outcomes were timed responses, percentage of correct actions, teamwork, safety knowledge, and attitudes. Identification of latent safety threats (LSTs) was the focus of debriefings. Within the clinical setting, translation of learned skills was assessed by measuring circuit readiness and compliance with a cannulation initiation checklist.

Results: Nineteen subjects performed 96 simulations during enrollment. In the laboratory, there was no improvement in timed responses or percent correct actions. Teamwork (P = 0.001), knowledge (P = 0.033), and attitudes (P = 0.001) all improved compared with baseline. Debriefing identified 99 LSTs. Clinically, 26 cannulations occurred during enrollment. Median time from blood available to circuit readiness was 17 minutes (range, 5-95), with no improvement during the study. Compliance with the initiation checklist improved compared with prestudy baseline (P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Simulation-based training is an effective method to improve safety knowledge, attitudes, and teamwork surrounding ECMO emergencies. On-going training is feasible and allows identification of LSTs. Further work is needed to assess translation of learned skills and behaviors into the clinical environment.

MeSH terms

  • Checklist
  • Clinical Competence
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation / education*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training / methods*
  • Male