New training uses simulators to prepare doctors for surgery

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

New York residents may be interested in an innovative new training method being used by physicians at the University of Minnesota. Doctors there are working with local medical device companies to develop simulators that offer life-like training to surgeons without requiring practice on an actual patient. Studies suggest the training could reduce surgical errors. The director of the school’s simulation program likens the training to a pitcher warming up before a game or a musician practicing before going on stage.

The director went on to say that the software will evolve to use MRI’s to create virtual models of a patient’s organs so that a surgeon can simulate the operation before doing the real surgery. A supervising surgeon said that the simulator has been a significant help for residents who use the training before performing successful operations on real patients.

Simulation training has an added benefit of identifying common errors and mistakes. A 2011 study focused on how simulation training can prepare doctors for laparoscopic surgery. It found a significant drop-off in performance among doctors who had consumed alcohol to the point of intoxication the night before. Doctors and medical students who are more aware of these issues can take better precautions to avoid errors in medical care.

Anything that provides more preparation and training for surgeons is positive news for patients. While doctors must undergo years of training before practicing, mistakes do still happen. Often those mistakes can have painful and costly outcomes for patients. Individuals who have been injured by a doctor error may be able to pursue compensation for their injuries through litigation. Any awarded compensation could be used to pay for medical expenses, ongoing care and pain and suffering.

Source: Hispanic Business, “Hands on surgery, minus the patient: U researchers refine use of simulators to practice surgery”, Dan Browning, December 08, 2013

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