High-Fidelity Human Patient Simulation

By Mitchell, C. Ben | Ethics & Medicine, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

High-Fidelity Human Patient Simulation


Mitchell, C. Ben, Ethics & Medicine


The institution where I now teach has a number of so-called high-fidelity human patient simulators. These are very sophisticated computerized mannequins which can be programed to reproduce many of the physiological responses of the human body. Behind one-way glass in a control room, nursing faculty run real-world clinical scenarios - complete with patients' voices and vital signs - while students examine, diagnose, and treat the mannequins. The scenarios are amazingly realistic and the students almost without exception become engrossed in the clinical context and forget it is a simulation. The obvious benefit of simulation is that no matter the level of skill, the students cannot harm real patients.

Recently, I and several of my colleagues, introduced ethical scenarios into the simulations. This has not been done before as far as I know. At least, there is very little literature on ethics simulation using high-fidelity human patient simulators. Again, the advantage of simulation is that no one is harmed in the process of sorting out the moral details of the case.

As I reflect on the usefulness of ethics simulation, I am struck by how important it is that medical training exhibits the vagaries of real life, including its moral dimensions. No two cases are ever exactly the same, either clinically or with respect to the personal details of patients, families, hospitals, or offices. …

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