30 October 2014

Frontline health staff will now be better equipped to manage deteriorating patients thanks to a new online simulation-based learning program.

University of Queensland researchers collaborated with experts across Australia to develop the program which is designed to help train first responders, such as nurses, on how to effectively manage deteriorating patients in hospitals.

FIRST2ACTweb (Feedback Incorporating Review and Simulation Techniques to Act on Clinical Trends) is the first program of its kind and pilot studies have already shown it can have a significant impact on clinical practice.

UQ lead researcher Associate Professor Fiona Bogossian, from the School of Nursing and Midwifery, said the program helped to ensure first responders were better equipped to safely manage deteriorating patients.

“The management of deteriorating patients is a problem throughout the world, and although not that complex, in a stressful situation the key essentials can easily be forgotten,” Dr Bogossian said.

“In a cohort of final year nursing students approximately half have never encountered a deteriorating patient in clinical practice and only 0.5 per cent have been a first responder.

“The best way to resolve this issue is to find ways for first responders and teams to practice through simulation.”

“FIRST2ACTweb builds on an earlier version of the program by including online video scenarios depicting deteriorating patients.

“Participants use the interactive technology to stabilise the patients in the stimulation scenarios by selecting virtual clinical actions.”

“The project provides an opportunity for students to be exposed to scenarios that otherwise would not be possible.”

“The virtual simulation platform provides a high degree of reality, enabling students to gain experience in recognising and responding to deteriorating patients, and receiving feedback so they can improve their performance,” Dr Bogossian said.

Although originally designed for nurses, other health professions can also engage in tutor-led discussions and feedback, download course handbooks and conduct online assessment tests.

The research was funded through the Australian Government Office of Teaching and Learning.

The program was developed in partnership with UQ’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, Monash University, Deakin University, and Federation University, and was recently unveiled to members of the global university network group, Universitas 21 Health Sciences, a collaborative group for the network of international higher education.

Media: Lya McTaggart, Senior Marketing and Communications Officer, UQ’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, 3365 5084 or lya.mctaggart@uq.edu.au