Healthcare Simulation Dictionary

In January 2013, an international group of simulation experts gathered in Orlando, Florida, U.S.A. to form a working team whose mission was to create a dictionary of terms used in health care simulation. This group recognized a need to compile terms that had been completed by other groups in health care simulation and to add more terms. The document you see represents the work of many individuals and their societies to compile and refine the dictionary. The goal of this project is to enhance communication and clarity for health care simulationists in teaching, education, assessment, research, and systems integration activities. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has partnered with the Society for Simulation in Healthcare and its many affiliates to produce the first comprehensive Healthcare Simulation Dictionary and disseminate it widely as part of AHRQ’s mission to improve patient safety, which includes simulation research.

There are some key points to keep in mind when looking at this document, because it is not perfect, nor complete.

  • This is a living document and represents the sum of the work at this moment. Terms and definitions will change and be edited, added, or deleted over time.
  • The intent was to be inclusive of the various definitions in use, not to exclude any definitions or areas of health care simulation.
  • This collection of definitions shows how the terms are being used in health care simulation. It is not intended to dictate one particular definition over another.
  • This dictionary focuses on health-care-simulation-specific terms and meanings. Many terms that are generally used in education (e.g., educational design) and health care (e.g., ventricular fibrillation or anxiety) are not defined. The reader is referred to standard dictionaries and resources for these definitions.
  • This list of terms is not a taxonomy, nor should it be used as such. It may inform taxonomical work.
  • Terms that have been identified as potentially controversial have been noted with a * prior to the word.
  • The terms and spellings are written in standard American English. This was at the recommendation of our consultant lexicographer to aid in reducing clutter and support translation to other languages.
  • As a living document, all are encouraged to submit feedback using the form located at We realize there may be better insights into other terms or definitions, additional references, etc.
  • Citations have been included wherever possible. Should you know of additional and/or missing citations, please submit those as above. Original citations are preferred.

The Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH) acknowledges the participation and input of many individuals and also the Societies they represent. Without you, this would not have been possible! Thank you for your time and efforts in the creation of this dictionary over the last 3 years.

Joseph O. Lopreiato M.D., M.P.H.
October 2016

Page last reviewed December 2017
Page originally created December 2016
Internet Citation: Healthcare Simulation Dictionary. Content last reviewed December 2017. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
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