‘Pregnant’ robot helps improve birth outcomes | News | The Press and Standard

by | March 3, 2017 5:00 am

Last Updated: March 1, 2017 at 11:06 am

From left, Lorraine Bonner, Holly Hair, Dr. Eugene Chang of MUSC, Lindsey Benton and Aleshia Kittrell.

By BARRY MOORE
publisher@lowcountry.com
Only six hours after giving birth, Julie is resting comfortably in her hospital bed, attended by four Colleton Medical Center (CMC) nurses: Holly Hair, RN, Lindsey Benton, RN, Lorraine Bonner, RN, and Aleshia Kittrell, PCT. Attending physician Dr. Marjorie DeMund is with another patient in an adjoining room.
Suddenly, without warning, the peaceful setting turns chaotic. Julie screams, “My head, my head, I have a terrible headache. Help me.” Her body begins trembling; her arms and legs shake uncontrollably and she loses consciousness.
The CMC team rushes into action. “Call Dr. DeMund,” orders nurse Hair. Benton begins to administer oxygen; Bonner reaches for a box containing emergency medication, and Kittrell raises the bed rails.
A quick look at the screens monitoring Julie’s blood pressure and other vital signs, confirms the emergency.
As Dr. DeMund enters the room, the nurses turn Julie onto her left side. She is checked for signs of blood loss. An examination shows that Julie is suffering a seizure. Dr. DeMund orders Bonner to prepare medication to prevent additional seizures and the team begins calling out items on the checklist for seizures that all have memorized as part of their medical training.
“Stop. That’s good. Let’s watch the recording and review,” Dr. Eugene Chang, a maternal fetal medicine specialist from MUSC tells the group. Dr. Chang, one of robot Julie’s handlers, has been observing the scenario from the back of the room. “It’s time to debrief and see what we did that we liked, and what areas we feel we can improve upon,” he says.
The simulation lasted 15 minutes. The staff training and the subsequent improved health outcomes for CMC patients will last much longer.
Julie, her simulation specialists and physicians are a project of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Palmetto Health. The organizations’ goals are to improve birth outcomes for South Carolina mothers and babies. Glen Miller, a former EMT and current simulation specialist explains, “Practice drills improve the proficiency of the medical staffs and their comfort levels in handling emergency situations that may not be seen frequently in a hospital environment. We are able to create scenarios that test the participant’s nursing skills.”
Different emergency scenarios are set up for the staff and physicians to respond to. During the scenarios Julie talks, breathes and blinks her eyes.  She can verbally report her symptoms and act out different emergency situations such as seizures, hemorrhages and other complications that can arise during childbirth.
Throughout the day, CMC staff attended different sessions for this specialized training. Communication between staff members during emergency situations is very important.  This was one of the main focal points for the training this year.  Five scenarios were recorded and reviewed.
Miller, and three other simulation specialists and medical personnel that travel with Julie in her $800,000 simulation vehicle, are based in Columbia. “Each year we visit all 42 South Carolina birthing hospitals,” Miller said. “We mostly do obstetrics and gynecology training, but we can do other disciplines also. The staff at Colleton Medical Center did great.”

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