Introduction: Children with tracheostomies are medically complex and may be discharged with limited and variably trained home nursing support. When faced with emergencies at home, caregivers must often take the lead role in management, and many lack experience with troubleshooting these emergencies prior to initial discharge.
Methods: A high-fidelity simulation-based tracheostomy education program was designed using a programmable mannequin (Gaumard HAL S3004 one-year-old pediatric simulator). At the conclusion of our standard education program, caregivers completed three simulation scenarios: desaturation, mucus plugging, and dislodgement. A trained simulation facilitator graded performance. A self-assessment tool was used to analyze comfort with emergency management at the beginning of training, before and after simulation. Caregivers rated confidence using a 10 cm visual analog scale. All participants completed a post-simulation debriefing session.
Results: 39 caregivers completed all three scenarios and returned pre- and post-simulation self-assessments. Mean scores from the caregiver self-assessments increased for all three scenarios, with mean increases of 9 mm for desaturation, 16 mm for mucus plugging, and 10 mm for decannulation. Two patterns of responses emerged: caregivers with progressive increase in confidence through training, and caregivers who initially rated confidence highly, and had confidence decrease as the complexity of true emergency management became apparent. All participants found the simulations to be realistic and helpful.
Discussion: High-fidelity simulation training allows for realistic exposure to trach-related emergencies. Many caregivers overestimate their ability to handle emergencies and gain important insight through simulation.
Implications for practice: Identification of skills and knowledge gaps prior to discharge allows for targeted re-education in emergency management.
Keywords: Caregiver; Patient safety; Pediatric tracheostomy; Quality improvement; Simulation based education.
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