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Pioneering research enjoys awards success

The epidural simulator research teamA pioneering research project by Poole Hospital and Bournemouth University has received recognition in two recent rounds of national awards.

The project – to develop a unique epidural simulator which will support clinical training and improve patient safety – picked up an award for innovation from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and was shortlisted in the IT & Technology category at the National Patient Safety Awards.

The simulator integrates patient-specific data with a 3D computer model and physical simulator to offer a realistic training experience for clinicians. Information about epidural pressure taken from clinical trials is combined with ultrasound and MRI scans, allowing the simulator to provide accurate feedback to the anaesthetist when inserting an epidural needle into a virtual patient.

The simulator will be able to simulate challenging patient characteristics and allow novice and experienced epiduralists to practice and improve their skills. 

The simulator was chosen as winner from over 400 entries in the IET awards’ IT category, and was one of just eight projects shortlisted from 700 entries in the IT & Technology category at the National Patient Safety Awards. 

Professor Michael Wee, consultant anaesthetist at Poole Hospital, said: “The simulator is designed to improve training in the epidural procedure by reducing the learning curve for trainee doctors, and presenting challenging cases for those experienced in administering epidurals.

“We hope this will translate into an overall improvement in patient safety, as well as more effective epidurals.”

Commenting on the high standard of entries in the IT category at the IET awards category, the judging panel described the epidural simulator “an innovative training solution to teach epidural procedure to medical practitioners.”

The members of the epidural simulator project team are Prof Michael Wee, consultant anaesthetist, Poole Hospital; Dr Richard Isaacs, research obstetric anaesthetic fellow, Poole Hospital; Mr Neil Vaughan, PhD student, Bournemouth University; Associate Prof Venky Dubey, School of Design, Engineering and Computing, Bournemouth University

Date: 10 December 2013

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