Patient Simulator Traini-Care Teaching Arsenal

By Lois Baker

Release Date: July 21, 1995 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The patient on the operating table suddenly goes into cardiac arrest.

Blood pressure drops. Respiration becomes labored. Surgeons, anesthesia providers, nurses and technicians work frantically to save the patient and figure out what went wrong.

But, not to worry. This drama is only make-believe.

Meet SAM, the Simulated Anesthesiology Mannikin. It is manufactured by CAE Electronics of Binghamton, a company that once made flight simulators. SAM is used to teach aspiring surgeons, nurses anesthetists, anesthesiologists, dentists, pharmacologists, operating-room nurses, technicians and others how the body responds to various drugs and adverse conditions in a safe but realistic clinical environment.

Faculty from the Nurse Anesthesia Program in the University at Buffalo School of Nursing will demonstrate SAM's capabilities on Wednesday, July 26, in the Center for Tomorrow on the UB North (Amherst) Campus. A special demonstration for members of the press will be held at 2 p.m. A presentation that is open to the public will begin at 4 p.m. An invitation-only presentation will take place earlier in the day.

The nursing school expects to acquire the patient simulator in the near future. Approximately 10 of the devices are in use in locations around the world, including Tokyo, Belgium, Toronto, Pittsburgh, New York City, Stanford University and the University of Washington. The University at Rochester owns a similar system.

Originally designed to train anesthesia providers, the patient simulator can be used in any field where experience in human physiological responses are critical. The system also is valuable for training in team-crisis management, evaluating human behavior under stress, assessing performance of routine medical procedures and testing new equipment.

SAM's body is fully computerized to respond realistically to nearly any nursing or medical intervention. It breathes, has a palpable pulse, maintains body temperature and produces breath and heart sounds. Monitors record a variety of responses induced by circumstances such as equipment malfunction, pathophysiological conditions and various metabolic, pulmonary and/or cardiovascular events.

For example, SAM can be induced to suffer from hypertension and diabetes, enabling students to learn the physiological effects of various drugs and interventions on such a patient. It can experience an allergic reaction to an anesthetic. Heart valves can be made to malfunction; breathing tubes to become displaced, monitors to become disconnected, IV lines disrupted.

SAM is programmed to respond to a total of 77 anesthetics, narcotics, cardiovascular drugs, neuromuscular blockers and miscellaneous drugs.

UB nursing and medical school administrators hope SAM's acquisition will be the first step in establishing a fully equipped simulation center that can be used for teaching and research across several disciplines.