Evaluation of an emergency-procedure teaching laboratory for the development of proficiency in tube thoracostomy

Acad Emerg Med. 1994 Jul-Aug;1(4):382-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.1994.tb02649.x.


Objective: Emergency-procedure laboratories are not a standardized part of the curriculum for emergency medicine residency programs. The authors evaluated the efficacy of an emergency-procedure laboratory to teach medical students and residents the performance of tube thoracostomy.

Methods: A prospective repeated-measures study of tube thoracostomy placement training was performed in an animal-laboratory setting. Participants were six first-postgraduate-year emergency medicine residents and six fourth-year medical students. Each participant was given a written pretest on tube thoracostomies followed by lectures on tube thoracostomy, venous cutdown, peritoneal lavage, and surgical airway. The procedure laboratory, using an anesthetized canine model (20-25 kg), was then conducted. Tube thoracostomies were timed from skin incision to passage of the tube into the thoracic cavity with subsequent tube fogging. Four attempts per participant were documented. Eighteen days later, an identical procedure laboratory was conducted for the same students including a written posttest identical to the pretest.

Results: The written test scores improved for every participant (p < 0.0001). Mean times for procedures completion improved from 121 sec to 39 sec (p = 0<.001) during the first session and improved from 58 sec to 28 sec (p = 0.005) during the second session. Retention of skills was indicated by significant shortening of the time to completion from the first attempt of the first session to that of the second session (121 sec to 58 sec, p = 0.002).

Conclusion: This procedure laboratory, which emphasized skill repetition, led to improvement in procedural speed and retention of tube thoracostomy skills over time. This approach to teaching clinical procedures should be considered for emergency medicine residency programs and for continuing medical education courses that emphasize acquisition of clinical procedural skills.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Dogs
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Laboratories
  • New York
  • Students, Medical
  • Thoracostomy*