Infections related to a single medical procedure cause thousands of deaths each year and add billions of dollars to the cost of the U.S. health care system.
A local study underway with doctors at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria (UICOMP) and OSF Saint Francis Medical Center looks at the education and training physicians receive prior to inserting a central line, so they can improve that education, cut health care costs, and moreover to save lives.
This is just one of many research studies taking place under Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center, a collaborative project between UICOMP and OSF HealthCare that is being constructed on the OSF campus.
“What we’re improving on is physician resident education, patient care and patient safety,” says Dr. Joe Peters, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery at UICOMP and the primary investigator behind the central line placement study.
Peters, an emergency physician at OSF Saint Francis, walks resident physicians step-by-step through the process of preparing the patient, the work space and tools, and then through the procedure using actual medical equipment and a specially-constructed manikin with “blood vessels.”
More Than Just a Procedure
Nationally, serious or fatal complications related to medical examination or treatments occur in about 3 percent of hospitalized patients, according to the National Academies Press.
Medical errors account for more than one million injuries and up to 98,000 hospital deaths each year. One study notes central venous catheter infections in the U.S. are associated with increased hospital length of stay and excess health care costs, ranging up to $56,000 per infection episode.
“Inserting a central line is more than just the procedure itself,” notes Peters. “It’s about appropriate set up and preparation, maintaining sterile technique and learning how to avoid complications of central line placement. With experience in the procedure comes confidence.”
Dr. Lisa Barker, Dr. Saad Alvi and Dr. Elsa Vazquez-Melendez are co-researchers in the project. Barker says simulation is increasingly becoming a vital and practical part of education for medical students and resident physicians.
“Everything is how it would be in the Intensive Care Unit or Emergency Room – the only difference being there’s not a real person lying in the bed,” says Barker, also an emergency medicine physician at OSF Saint Francis. Dr. Barker also runs a “blue alert” simulation – when a patient becomes unresponsive and has no pulse – to improve communication and skills for UICOMP medical students.
The UICOMP study will assess more than 80 physician residents at OSF Saint Francis, and in fact, OSF is requiring central line placement training for all residents. The goal is to learn the most cost-effective way to improve medical training and in turn improve health outcomes for patients.