Center for Patient Safety Reveals Advanced Ultrasound Simulator

Resident physicians will now have access to the most comprehensive ultrasound and echocardiography simulator in the Southeast region, thanks to a project spearheaded by University of Miami and Jackson Memorial Hospital physicians, residents and leaders, and funded by the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR), the union that represents housestaff at UM/Jackson.

Joshua D. Lenchus, D.O., R.Ph., President of the Medical Staff at Jackson and associate professor of clinical medicine in the Division of Hospital Medicine at the Miller School, David J. Birnbach, M.D., M.P.H., Miller Professor of Anesthesiology and Director of the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital Center for Patient Safety, David A. Lubarsky, M.D., M.B.A., Emanuel M. Papper Professor and Chair of Anesthesiology and Chief Medical and Systems Integration Officer for UHealth, and Michael Butler, M.D., M.H.A., Chief Medical Officer at Jackson Health System, recently joined forces to help facilitate the purchase of the CAE VIMEDIX ultrasound simulator.

The pioneering training device will provide vivid, life-like and high-resolution color imaging to assist in diagnosing a variety of medical issues. Using computer-generated echo simulation, VIMEDIX teaches residents how to perform cardiac echo imaging procedures and interpret the scanned ultrasound images – without risk to patients.

“The CAE VIMEDIX ultrasound simulation trainer offers learners an unparalleled platform for exposure and education,” said Lenchus, who initiated the Center for Patient Safety’s acquisition of the simulator. “In addition to the normal images, virtually every abnormal finding can be programmed into the simulator, testing the ability of the learner for both image acquisition and interpretation in that type of disease. With this advanced technology, learning in a single session can accomplish what used to take luck and hundreds of patient encounters if done at the bedside.”

Following the recommendations of Yiliam Rodriguez, M.D., associate professor of clinical anesthesiology and Chief of Cardiac Anesthesia, and Ricardo Martinez-Ruiz, M.D., associate professor of clinical anesthesiology, Chief of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit and the Cardiac Anesthesia Program at the Miami VA Medical Center, Lubarsky encouraged Josh Livingstone, M.D., assistant professor of clinical anesthesiology, to work with residents Craig Jabaley, M.D., and Conrad Macon, M.D., to submit a grant for the innovative system he and Lenchus saw as a necessity for producing exceptional, well-trained physicians.

“Mastery of non-invasive imaging techniques is a cornerstone of modern acute bedside diagnostic skills, and we are committed to providing our residents – not only anesthesia, but all interested residents – with the opportunity to gain that expertise,” Lubarsky said. “We recently started a series of workshops for all our anesthesia faculty on bedside ultrasound because of its importance in modern medicine, and this acquisition will make sure all UM faculty across the UM-JMH-VA campus are at the cutting edge, enhancing patient care and teaching capability. This simulator allows new and experienced physicians, trainees and medical students an amazing opportunity to learn efficiently with the latest technology, and without inconveniencing patients with extended exams for new learners.”

Third-year resident Mihai Puia-Dumitrescu, M.D., CIR Regional Vice President, said when physicians and administration work together, there’s no limit to what they can do to improve patient care. “This is not just an investment for residents who practice at Jackson today — hundreds of residents will continue to gain these necessary skills for years to come.”

Butler also recognized the potential the new technology has for medical education.

“Basic medical training does not adequately prepare residents to use ultrasonography and bedside ultrasounds, which is a non-invasive way to assess a patient and provide timely interventions to improve patient outcomes,” Butler said. “Jackson is advancing its program with the ultrasonography training, which will be provided to all residents in anesthesiology, obstetrics and gynecology, family medicine, and internal medicine, as well as fellows in cardiology, critical care, and trauma surgery.”

Butler added that safety and efficiency would be improved by putting residents and fellows to work on the new advanced ultrasound simulator, which supports training in several complex areas, including central venous catheter placement, endotracheal intubation, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and crisis management.

The new, advanced ultrasound is just one of several projects to come from the collaboration between CIR and Jackson. Dedicated to improving patient safety, the purchase of the $126,000 simulator was made possible by the CIR/Jackson Housestaff Involvement Fund, a product of collective bargaining and an example of Jackson’s solid commitment to its training programs. The fund is used to enhance resident-driven quality improvement and patient care projects. As the healthcare system changes, quality improvement has become an important requirement in residency training, and Jackson continues to lead the charge by improving systems, innovating practices and embracing new technology.

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