Nurses will be better able to manage deteriorating patients and ensure their safety thanks to a new online education program.
FIRST2ACTweb™ (Feedback Incorporating Review and Simulation Techniques to Act on Clinical Trends) is a simulation-based learning program developed by researchers from Monash University, the University of Queensland, Deakin, Federation Training (formerly GIPPSTafe) and international institutions.
Lead developer and the Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Monash University’s Berwick campus, Associate Professor Simon Cooper, said medical researchers and professionals were concerned that patients who were deteriorating physiologically were frequently mismanaged.
“Deteriorating patients are not always identified by health care professionals, with reports showing that key signs are missed in up to 46 per cent of hospital cases,” Associate Professor Cooper said.
“It is a serious patient safety problem internationally. Managing a deteriorating patient is not particularly complex, but in a stressful situation nurses can forget the essentials.
“There is a tendency not to notice that vital signs are getting worse and a lack of understanding of the things to do when patients are gradually deteriorating – including a failure to call for help when required.”
Associate Professor Cooper said that because sudden deterioration is not a frequent occurrence, healthcare staff can become deskilled in the management of emergencies.
“The best way to resolve this issue is to practise in simulated settings, which is why we developed FIRST2ACTweb™,” he said.
The program allows the students and healthcare workers to put their skills and knowledge to the test in realistic settings – and see the consequences of making the wrong decision.
They work through three scenarios depicting ‘patients’ (professional actors) who show signs of deteriorating. In a set time, the student has to select the appropriate treatment or procedure, for example giving oxygen, taking blood tests or changing the bed position. If they get it wrong, the “patient” fails to improve.
Associate Professor Cooper said that FIRST2ACTweb™ training had been found to have a significant positive impact on educational outcomes and the face to face version of the training scheme has had an impact on clinical practice.
The program was originally intended for Australian nursing students but for the past 12 months international healthcare students and practitioners have also been able to access it.
FIRST2ACTweb™ joins two other innovative teaching programs, MASK- Ed-KRS Simulation and community health labs, that are available to trainee nurses at the Berwick campus to ensure they have a better understanding and practical knowledge of health care when they join the work force.