Background: We sought to determine whether mannequin-based simulation can reliably characterize how board-certified anesthesiologists manage simulated medical emergencies. Our primary focus was to identify gaps in performance and to establish psychometric properties of the assessment methods.
Methods: A total of 263 consenting board-certified anesthesiologists participating in existing simulation-based maintenance of certification courses at one of eight simulation centers were video recorded performing simulated emergency scenarios. Each participated in two 20-min, standardized, high-fidelity simulated medical crisis scenarios, once each as primary anesthesiologist and first responder. Via a Delphi technique, an independent panel of expert anesthesiologists identified critical performance elements for each scenario. Trained, blinded anesthesiologists rated video recordings using standardized rating tools. Measures included the percentage of critical performance elements observed and holistic (one to nine ordinal scale) ratings of participant's technical and nontechnical performance. Raters also judged whether the performance was at a level expected of a board-certified anesthesiologist.
Results: Rater reliability for most measures was good. In 284 simulated emergencies, participants were rated as successfully completing 81% (interquartile range, 75 to 90%) of the critical performance elements. The median rating of both technical and nontechnical holistic performance was five, distributed across the nine-point scale. Approximately one-quarter of participants received low holistic ratings (i.e., three or less). Higher-rated performances were associated with younger age but not with previous simulation experience or other individual characteristics. Calling for help was associated with better individual and team performance.
Conclusions: Standardized simulation-based assessment identified performance gaps informing opportunities for improvement. If a substantial proportion of experienced anesthesiologists struggle with managing medical emergencies, continuing medical education activities should be reevaluated.