Background: Current methods to assess Basic Life Support skills (BLS; chest compressions and ventilations) require the presence of an instructor. This is time-consuming and comports instructor bias. Since BLS skills testing is a routine activity, it is potentially suitable for automation. We developed a fully automated BLS testing station without instructor by using innovative software linked to a training manikin. The goal of our study was to investigate the feasibility of adequate testing (effectiveness) within the shortest period of time (efficiency).
Methods: As part of a randomised controlled trial investigating different compression depth training strategies, 184 medicine students received an individual appointment for a retention test six months after training. An interactive FlashTM (Adobe Systems Inc., USA) user interface was developed, to guide the students through the testing procedure after login, while Skills StationTM software (Laerdal Medical, Norway) automatically recorded compressions and ventilations and their duration ("time on task"). In a subgroup of 29 students the room entrance and exit time was registered to assess efficiency. To obtain a qualitative insight of the effectiveness, student's perceptions about the instructional organisation and about the usability of the fully automated testing station were surveyed.
Results: During testing there was incomplete data registration in two students and one student performed compressions only. The average time on task for the remaining 181 students was three minutes (SD 0.5). In the subgroup, the average overall time spent in the testing station was 7.5 minutes (SD 1.4). Mean scores were 5.3/6 (SD 0.5, range 4.0-6.0) for instructional organisation and 5.0/6 (SD 0.61, range 3.1-6.0) for usability. Students highly appreciated the automated testing procedure.
Conclusions: Our automated testing station was an effective and efficient method to assess BLS skills in medicine students. Instructional organisation and usability were judged to be very good. This method enables future formative assessment and certification procedures to be carried out without instructor involvement.
Trial registration: B67020097543.