September 15, 2011
TV special effects team and hospital join forces to train staff
Royal Brompton Hospital has teamed up with film and TV special effects artists for a groundbreaking new training programme to support young heart patients. The Harley Baby is the world’s first patient model designed to recreate emergency care for child heart patients and is being unveiled by doctors from Royal Brompton on Tuesday 20 September. Harley simulates a real-life chest opening, giving clinical staff the opportunity to experience first-hand the intricate care needed by children with heart problems.
Harley is a prototype design, modelled on a five-year-old, created especially to help paediatric staff respond to complicated emergencies. The mannequin’s skin opens over a chest wall to expose the rib cage, heart and a bleeding mechanism which has a pressure pump to control the flow of blood. It mimics the dangerous accumulation of blood around the heart, which can develop after heart surgery. Surgeons, doctors and nurses from Royal Brompton can then perform an emergency chest opening during a training exercise on the paediatric intensive care ward.
Mr Olivier Ghez, consultant paediatric surgeon at Royal Brompton, worked with the model’s designers. He said: "Harley is unnervingly realistic – the touch of the skin, the sensation of opening the chest and the blood around the rubber heart. It is unlike any model I have seen before and is fantastic for training.
"We wanted to heighten the impression that you are operating on a real child and need to act swiftly and as a team. This is the best way to experience the reality of an emergency and build on your skills to deliver the best possible care for our young heart patients."
The model was devised by Royal Brompton’s SPRinT
programme (Simulated Paediatric Resuscitation Team Training). The award-winning team runs weekly paediatric simulations throughout the hospital to improve multidisciplinary team performance in time-critical situations. When the need for a model arose, Health Cuts, a company specialising in prosthetics for medical training, TV and film, including BBC’s Holby City and Casualty, was approached.
Izzy Campbell, a trained nurse and Health Cuts Ltd prosthetics designer, said: "We are used to creating a whole range of medical conditions and injuries, but Royal Brompton presented us with a real challenge – a model which mimicked the post-surgical complications of a young cardiac patient, for team training purposes. It had to be substantially life-like to enhance team training and put them under similar pressures to a real life emergency. The result is something completely unique, a prototype model that simulates re-opening the chest, complete with flowing blood."
Training starts when an alarm goes off alerting staff to a severe drop in blood pressure. Harley can only be saved by reopening the chest to relieve the fatal build up of blood around the heart. The exercise runs for twenty minutes, after which the team watch a video recording to see how they worked together.
The SPRinT programme uses crash trolleys, resuscitation equipment and real drugs to create scenarios that are as true to life as possible. It was highly commended by leading NHS trainers in 2010, for prioritising patient safety and encouraging the highest standards in clinical care.
Dr Margarita Burmester and Dr Meredith Allen are both consultant paediatric intensivists and joint directors of SPRinT. Dr Burmester said: "These simulations happen in real time, in real working environments, and communication and team dynamics are crucial to getting things right. Harley allows us to recreate a life threatening situation to show how best teams can work together."
Dr Meredith Allen added: "Thanks to the support of the Friends of Royal Brompton, we can use this latest model alongside the latest methods of adult learning theory to provide the best response to a crisis resource and encourage the very highest standards in clinical care. We can train the multidisciplinary team in one of the most complex scenarios that can occur on the paediatric intensive care unit."
Harley is named after the family whose donation to Friends of Royal Brompton Hospital paid for the model.