The simulation scenario starts and things are going well. The learners are on their game. Instability – recognized, managed. Initial orders – done. And then it all falls apart. We’ve all been there.
- The learners zigged when they should have zagged (Sepsis?? The pt’s having an AMI!)
- They missed the KEY item that would have given the diagnosis, now they’re stuck in nowhere Land.
- They’re about to perform a painful procedure on someone who doesn’t need it!!
The sim case has officially derailed
Whatever the situation, you as the facilitator need to prepare how to fix sim-case-derailment in advance. If you are like many of us, and believe in realism, then you need to know what you’re going to do to keep the scenario going, or, when you need to break realism and “fix it.”
The following are potential issues and options for how to work through or around issues that arise during simulations. Options can be separated into “adapting” the case (keeping your changes within the scenario) and “restoring” the case (fixing it, often from without).
The underlying concept to any scenario rescue or modification is to remember: What are your objectives?
|Problem||In-scenario fixes (adapt)||Out-of-scenario fix (restore)|
|Learner Error (misdiagnosis, missed exam finding, wrong med/dose)||
|Dangerous actions (uncapped needle, scalpel, etc)||
|Mismatched competency (case too easy or too hard for the learners)||
Consider your original objectives
When applying any of the above corrections, or others not listed here, remember to consider your original objectives. Would letting the scenario progress naturally, albeit differently than planned keep the learner from meeting their objectives? Interrupting the case for correction or redirection may ruin the flow and result in artificiality.
Other considerations for corrections
- Correcting within the case must follow scenario logic — i.e. patients don’t magically improve!
- “In-scenario” fixes are psychological and not physical. Any form of communication may be used. Consider confederate consultant questions such as, “Are you SURE it’s atrial fibrillation?”
- Another “in scenario” fix to restore (not adapt) the case could be as simple as having the nurse confederate correct the vital signs (“sorry, we haven’t updated the monitor to the new patient”)
- For “out of scenario” fixes, think about at what point you should restart the case or simply resume the case.
Videos Highlighting Correction Techniques
Below are two videos showing options for case management when unexpected events occur.
Acknowledgements: adapted from “Keeping it Real When Faking it” presented at CORD AA 2010, Mike Smith MD, Thomas Noeller MD Corey Heitz, and Raymond Ten Eyck MD.