Simulation App Trains Health Care Workers on Better Use of ‘Crash Carts’

Anyone working in clinical health care settings understands the importance of “crash carts”, the rolling cabinets of trays and drawers containing emergency medications and lifesaving equipment. Health care teams also know the importance of training to make the most efficient use of crash carts.

With that in mind, UAB Clinical Simulation/Office of Interprofessional Simulation for Innovative Clinical Practice (OIPS) launched Medical Cart AR, an augmented reality (AR) mobile application that makes it easy for health care workers to explore and familiarize themselves with crash carts.

The launch of the Medical Cart AR app is an effort to increase hands-on training with crash carts without having to take a properly stocked medical cart out of commission for educational purposes. The app features a virtual copy of the crash cart, so it can be used anywhere, anytime, and as often as needed. It also allows multiple users to train simultaneously and independently.

The Medical Cart AR mobile app enables medical professionals and students to:

  • Get to know the cart and learn useful tips about the cart’s items.
  • Test their familiarity with the cart using timed challenges.
  • Use quick search mode for faster reference to the cart’s contents.

To design the app, OIPS partnered with JUMP Simulation, a medical engineering center that specializes in simulation training for health care professionals. Instrumental in the process were April Belle, DNP, RN, CCNS, a senior simulation coordinator with OIPS, and Teldra McCord Thomas, MSME, a clinical simulation specialist with the OIPS operations team.

Belle, who designs simulations for various systems and practices, sees Medical Cart AR as a more convenient way for staff to stay in practice.

“We wanted to create a way for anyone to practice with the carts that wouldn’t require cumbersome tablets or a visit to the simulation lab,” Belle says. “We’ve had the ability to do simulation, but making it more accessible was really an issue of convenience. Staff will tend to utilize any tool more often if we make it accessible.”

Driven by Necessity

McCord Thomas says the new app partly grew out of necessity during the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We used to have a crash cart training process during orientation for nurse residents,” McCord Thomas says. “We designed a kind of hands-on scavenger hunt within the actual crash carts, so that residents could learn where supplies are stored in each drawer of the cart. When the COVID pandemic came along, we needed a way to conduct the training and yet make certain that everyone was safe. So that is how we ventured into the possibility of virtual or augmented reality training for this purpose.”

By streamlining procedures and reducing errors during an emergency, the app improves efficiency and patient safety. Additionally, the app can locate items in the crash cart that protect members of the emergency care team from any safety hazards associated with providing care. For those reasons, and because it can be used anywhere at any time, the Medical Cart AR Mobile App should boost the confidence of those using carts during actual emergencies.

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