Working under extreme stress can cause medical professionals to deviate from clinical guidelines even if they know of their existence, let alone in situations such as COVID-19 where guidelines are unclear, fluid, and resources limited. In situ simulation has been proven an effective tool for training medical professionals during previous healthcare crises, eg, Ebola, influenza, as well as for assessing the preparedness of centers by identifying potential latent safety threats. In this article, we describe our ongoing simulation activities to ensure that our staff is best prepared to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19.
This is a prospective preparedness assessment and training intervention at a tertiary care academic center in Lebanon during the COVID-19 pandemic. In situ simulations followed by debriefing with good judgment occur daily involving native teams of 3 to 5 professionals in the newly established COVID intensive care unit and wards, the adult and pediatric intensive care unit and wards, and the emergency department. The simulations are assessed by the instructor using the Simulation Team Assessment Tool and by the participants using the Simulation Effectiveness Tool. Transcripts of recorded simulation debriefings are analyzed for content for latent safety threats using the SHELL Framework (Software-Hardware-Equipment-Liveware).
In 2 weeks, we conducted 15 simulations with 106 participants and 47 observers. Simulation Team Assessment Tool scores show an overall improvement across the hospital over time [101.5 ± 13 (80–134)]. Participants' feedback on the Simulation Effectiveness Tool has been predominantly positive on the educational and practical benefits of the simulation activity. Data from debriefings and observations demonstrated the following categories of latent safety threats: inadequate preparedness on infection control, uncertainty of guidelines on oxygen supplementation and intubation protocols, lack of leadership and communication, overall panic, and others.
Our single-center preparedness intervention demonstrated multiple latent safety threats in relation to COVID-19, which can be recognized through simulation before translating into actual patient care.