The delivery of a high-risk fetus involves multiple teams that must work independently and with one another to ensure the highest-quality and safest care for mother and neonate. To help prepare the obstetric and neonatal surgery teams for these complex deliveries in the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit (SDU), we developed a program using simulation, a powerful educational tool that uses manikins to mimic real-life situations.

Simulation allows learning without putting patients at risk — even if mistakes are made — and has been shown to improve caregiver confidence, skill retention and, in some situations, patient outcomes. Simulation is an ideal technique for adult learners; it is experiential and a debriefing following each exercise encourages reflection. As evidenced in multiple studies, one of simulation’s most important benefits is the focus on teamwork and team leadership, also known as crisis resource management.

Simulation in the SDU

gastrochisis manikin examples Simulation is a powerful educational tool that involves using manikins (gastroschisis models shown here) to mimic real-life situations. The Special Delivery Unit provides a unique opportunity for interdisciplinary simulations, involving the obstetric, anesthetic, surgical and neonatal teams. Drawing from our experience treating a high volume of surgical neonates, we have created models that resemble specific birth defects and developed accompanying patient scenarios. Well-planned simulations have honed clinicians into experts at managing these complex cases and helped ensure our optimal care guidelines are achievable and comprehensive.

For example, a scenario featuring a mother carrying a fetus with gastroschisis calls for a longitudinal simulation. The obstetric and anesthetic teams manage labor and delivery while the Neonatal Surgical Team prepares for immediate stabilization of the neonate. In this scenario, rehearsing potential maternal and neonatal complications in a controlled environment allows all team members to interact seamlessly.

Multidisciplinary simulations teach our teams to integrate the behavioral, technical and cognitive skills needed for real-life situations, and thus provide the safest and most advanced care.