Simulator Robots Prep Doctors for Surgery

CIO | Nov 7, 2014

Surgical Sam is a lifelike, pediatric mannequin that is training doctors at Boston Children's Hospital.

This is surgical sam, a lifelike, pediatric mannequin that is training doctors at Boston Children's Hospital. It's designed to simulate open heart surgery and heart lung bypass. The mannequin is one piece of the growing simulator program at the hospital.

Peter Weinstock
Director, Boston Children's Hospital, Simulator Program
And so what we've done is we've started to amalgamate an amazing team. So we have engineers, puppeteers, special effects people and we have specialists in simulation. And they've come together. And what we can do now is build these next generation mannequins, next generation trainers, building in even three dimensional printing to create actual reproductions of children so that when we're simulating, we're not just simulating generic mannequin, we're simulating, essentially on the very child they're going to operate or provide procedures in the coming hours or days.

Dr. Weinstock said the simulators at Children's aren't just used by trainees and medical students, but senior level clinicians preparing for procedures. The simulator program at the hospital is 14 years old and was the first on-site program in the country. For a while though adoption was slow with uncertainty about the benefits of using simulators in medicine.

In many ways if you look at high stakes industries across the board. If you look at nuclear power and the airline industry they adopted simulation based technology pretty readily. It just made intuitive sense that you'd never get into a plane that didn't have a pilot that trained on a simulator. In healthcare it's been a little slower learning curve. There's been the need for outcomes based research around simulation and the good news; the jury is back in. Simulation has been shown to reduce morbidity and mortality its been shown to reduce blood stream infections, it has been shown to have tremendous returns on investment.

It took about 3 years of collaboration between the hospital and Massachusetts based Chamberlain Group to create Surgical Sam. It sells for about 20-thousand dollars based on its configuration.

In Boston, Nick Barber, IDG News Service.