A new life-like patient simulator at West Suffolk Hospital is giving medical students the chance to treat a variety of conditions hands-on.
The innovative mannequin was paid for with a donation of £27,000 from the Friends of West Suffolk Hospital and can be programmed to recreate any medical issue.
Controlled by a computer, “SimMan” is first programmed to simulate a condition.
A tutor then uses a microphone to act as the patient, giving students the chance to react to feedback from the patient as well as developing their bedside manner.
SimMan is very realistic – with a moving rib cage to recreate breathing, blinking eyes and a real pulse. It can be linked up to a range of machines and monitors.
Medical Student Moritz Schramm said the simulator recreated some of the drama of treating a real patient.
“It is a very cool piece of kit”, he said.
“The number of times we see people actually have a cardiac arrest is not that common, so being able to practise in a safe environment like this is crucial.
“It can get your heart rate up and your adrenaline pumping, too.
“The response to the patient can be really visceral.
“There is no better way of learning than experience, but it wouldn’t be safe for us to do this in the real world.”
The simulator can recreate a huge range of conditions to keep students on their toes including respiratory problems, abnormal heart rate, collapsed lungs and bladder issues. It can even suffer allergic reactions, making its tongue swell up.
On Friday, SimMan put medical students through their paces at the hospital’s new £500,000 clinical skills unit, which officially opens on May 1.
Recreating a cardiac arrest, a team of students rushed to diagnose the issue and administer life-saving CPR.
James Whatling, clinical skills manager at the unit said; The pointof this is that you get to practise in a safe environment.
“You can make your mistakes where no-one can be harmed.
“He may take a bashing but no lives are lost.
“We are very grateful to the Friends for their donating the money to make this possible.”