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AHRQ’s Simulation Dictionary: A New Tool To Support Patient Safety Efforts
In health care, effective communication is essential—not only at the bedside, but also in the language that’s used in health care improvement efforts that are designed to ensure safer care.
AHRQ, in partnership with the Society for Simulation and its affiliates, has recently taken an exciting step toward enhancing patient safety through the use of shared language by developing the first Healthcare Simulation Dictionary.
Designed as a working document, the simulation dictionary provides definitions used in various settings and from various sources. It does not prioritize or promote a particular definition. But with more than 100 terms and written in standard American English to ease translation to other languages, the dictionary is a valuable tool for health care simulation researchers, educators, and their associated societies who recognize the need to improve communication clarity and consistency in this growing field.
AHRQ has been funding projects to develop, test, and evaluate various simulation approaches since 2006. As a training technique, simulation exposes individuals and teams to realistic clinical challenges through the use of mannequins, task trainers, virtual reality, standardized patients, or other forms.
Simulation provides a safe environment for clinicians to experience in real-time the consequences of their decisions and actions without putting patients at risk. It can also be used to test clinical processes and identify areas of concern in new procedures and technologies as well as serve as a vehicle to establish performance competency benchmarks for credentialing and certification.
Notable among AHRQ’s work in simulation was the 2015 release of Health Care Simulation to Advance Safety: Responding to Ebola and Other Threats. This issue brief describes the role of simulation in preparing and protecting front-line providers in responding to the Ebola virus and other emergent epidemics.
In brief, health care is benefitting from many innovative uses of simulation, and interest is high among those who hope to do more.
Numerous health care simulation centers and programs in schools of medicine and nursing have developed their own simulation expertise. Many of these institutions are responding to AHRQ’s program announcement for simulation research. AHRQ has already made awards in areas of high potential, such as using simulation to support insertion of ultrasound-guided venous catheters, diagnosing skin cancer, identifying sepsis, measuring laparoscopic skill, and assessing acute care management.
As new technologies and procedures emerge, the need to keep pace with the simulation lexicon will grow. We look forward to supporting and seeing how the simulation dictionary grows over time. The Society for Simulation in Healthcare welcomes your feedback and suggestions.
In the meantime, please take note: beginning today and continuing for 12 consecutive days, we’ll be posting health care simulation terms and definitions to @AHRQNews and Facebook. We hope these examples help highlight an area of health care that is showing great potential to boost ongoing patient safety efforts.