Simulation Improves Medical Education – One Case Study at a Time

The January issue of Healthcare Innovation News features an article on simulation in medical education, and the value of i-Human Patients in this space, written by our very own Norm Wu! Check out an excerpt from the article, along with the full text, below.

Article excerpt: 

“When Thomas Eric Duncan first visited Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, he reported abdominal pain, dizziness, nausea and a headache. Exams by a doctor found a fever, nasal congestion and a runny nose, as well as abdominal tenderness. Duncan was diagnosed with sinusitis and sent home with a prescription for antibiotics.  This is perhaps the highest profile misdiagnosis in recent memory.

Duncan was, of course, infected with Ebola. The virus’ initial symptoms are similar to those of the flu, and the disease also bears similarities to malaria, a crucial distinction that has to be made in West Africa where the virus continues to rage. Although Duncan’s travel history should have alerted doctors, his time in Liberia went overlooked and under-communicated in his initial diagnosis.

While this was a particularly extreme and high-profile case, misdiagnosis is all too common. One in 20 U.S. adult outpatients is misdiagnosed every year. That’s 12 million patients, half of whom might potentially be harmed as a result of an error.

Clearly, with such a high misdiagnosis rate, more must be done to ensure doctors are equipped to deduce any affliction that crosses their paths based on the evidence before them. But don’t expect to see medical students training to diagnose Ebola any time soon. Medical education tends to focus on the horses rather than the zebras, ensuring doctors are well versed in recognizing the ailments they are much more likely to encounter in practice—the flu, meningitis, strep throat.

But what could change is how diagnostic skills are taught and cultivated. Critical thinking skills and deductive reasoning apply across ailments, ensuring physicians can spot Ebola just as readily as they can spot the flu. Increasingly, students are gaining these skills through simulation, a long-standing teaching tool for medical students that has grown increasingly sophisticated in recent years. Simulation is helping to put a dent in misdiagnosis, reduce medical costs, and improve patient well-being.”

Read the rest of the article here: Healthcare Innovation News Jan 2015 Wu

Distributed monthly on a subscription basis, Healthcare Innovation News is a publication of Health Policy Publishing, LLC, the leading source of health care business and policy publications.

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